Posted by: ButterflyMoms | September 21, 2012

The Dark Side of Parenting…

Dearest ButterflyMoms,

When I sit down every Friday no matter where I am in the world to write the ButterflyMoms blog, I hold a space for it to be as authentic and real as I can be, in that moment. I have learned that the more I can be in that space, the more you, my beloved ButterflyMoms, can too. Deep breaths for this week’s blog will awaken your heart…
It was a very challenging week. My dark side came out. It was very ugly at times. Don’t get me wrong, I love living here in Portugal. On the stunning drive along the sunny Atlantic coast today to drop off Isabella at her preschool, I contemplated how I would describe this to you so you could see what I mean. Please let me know if you get what I’m saying…

I am in love with being here. It’s the end of September and still in 90’s, sunny, very little humidity. I literally live across the street from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a 10 minute leisurely stroll to several gorgeous beaches. There are magical moment at every turn, like just before I started writing today blog, I opened my window and was greeted with the most amazing sunshine carrying with it the smell of the ocean….ahhhhhhhhh! There is sooooooooooooooo much to love here!

Yesterday I had a women’s group meeting at my house with women from England, Denmark and Australia. It was incredible. We all pulled an affirmation and mine was ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT!… ARGH! Not that lesson again! (You always know it’s your lesson because when you pull a card like this you always want to put it back 😉

The AHA that hit me like a ton of bricks is that pretty much EVERY little or big thing that you and I usually take for granted… driving to your destination without getting lost, knowing how to simply turn on a gas stove, putting a load in the washer that came with no directions, finding out where to get gas, trying to get the girls signed up for a good school, knowing where things are, knowing what words to use… all of these things are new to me here! There is a learning curve and they also take a lot longer than if I already knew them… This adds stress to the equation.

If I go back to the incredible work of Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs, I am on ‘level one’ from a logistical standpoint (chakra one), yet my upper chakras are in heaven (the visionary, writer) because there is soooo much visioning going on. So basically what is happening is that parts of me are being nurtured while other parts are being slowly starved.

What that looks like is that instead of getting sleep, I stay up. My brain/ego have taken over my body and its needs are falling by the wayside. How I see it in my life is that I get super cranky. My lack of self-care is directly proportional with how I treat my children. I yell and am short-tempered to an extreme that keeps growing until I realize what is happening…sometimes it takes days or weeks. The joy is squeezed out and the day becomes a military exercise of getting things done. It is a very sad way for children to grow up. It is a very sad way for me to live.

I know some of you will judge me but I am writing this for those of you out there who feel the same thing and don’t know how or what to shift. Sometimes when we do things we regret we stay stuck in that memory and eventually that memory defines us. All you can really do is START WHERE YOU ARE. START WITH THE SIMPLE… a letter.

What I did is I wrote my daughter Mialotta a letter that described how important she is to me. How I now saw how I had not treated her the way I truly feel about her. As I write this I am getting flashbacks to my own childhood. We imitate what we have seen. This is a priceless moment for me to take the IMPRINTING I received as a child and MORPH it into my vision for what kind of parent I want to be. PERFECT is not an option. AUTHENTICITY is an option and it is the option I am intending.

I cannot JUST say it. I know that if I don’t take REAL care of myself, my children will suffer. This crap does not just PLOP IN out of left field one random day. It builds and builds and builds as I ignored and ignored and ignored it. I have gotten too good at ignoring things. My life can be soooooo amazingly wonderful if I only do the things I know I need to take extreme care of myself… EXERCISE, GET ENOUGH SLEEP, EAT WELL, DRINK WATER, DO MY DAILY REIKI RITUALS, DO MY ARTIST’S WAY MORNING PAGES, CHOOSE MY ACTIVITIES WISELY, HONOR MY TIME…. There are a lot more, but these are the core activities that set up my life for massive amounts of fulfillment and joy and that is the time of life I’m striving for! I believe that time of life is our birthright.

I wrote that letter to Mialotta last night and handed it to her this morning. It was the first time I had ever written her a letter like that. She devoured it.  When she was done I hugged her and through my tears I told her how sorry I was for not truly SEEING her or treating her through the reflection of how much I love her. She hugged me back tightly and said, “You are the most beautiful mommy in the whole world.”

Today is a new day….and I am immensely thankful for the powers of awareness and forgiveness.

Great big hugs from beautiful Portugal,

PS Only one person responded to adding cool Portuguese terms and culture to the ButterflyMoms blog so unless I hear from more of you I won’t be doing it. Let me know know what you think. ALWAYS love hearing from our readers…


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*Every Friday Morning, as a way of honoring her daughter Sophia’s soul, Maria writes the weekly BUTTERFLYMOMS BLOG. Hundreds of people read it every week to feed their souls. Maria started writing the blog in May 2009 and has written EVERY Friday since. Tell your friends… https://butterflymoms.wordpress.comand spread the love!!! FEED YOUR SOUL!!!!!


  1. My dear Maria…what a beautiful and important lesson you taught your Mialotta! We, even as adults, are all learning…and sometimes we lose it…but we realize it, apologize, and never stop loving. You have given your beautiful daughter an opportunity to forgive, and that my dear Maria is a wonderful lesson! I have continued admiration for you and your family! P.S. Gave Doug a hug at the Superette the other day! :0) xo from across the sea!

  2. Parenthood is challenging and awesome… you can be your best to your child…you can be your worst to your child. May the best days far outweigh the worst. Love and hugs- and lots of understanding.

  3. Seem like your writing with me in your mind !! I just had a heart to heart with my son in regards to what has happen to us as a family..And cleared up some really important things which we both had wrong…!! My mother always told me that just because you been doing it this way your whole life doesn’t mean your doing it right !,,,It just means you been doing your way,, Till know !! I wish i listen to half of what my parents told me when i was younger…God Knows where or what i would be today ??? Love you my great friend !!

  4. Love love love this post!!

    Sent from my iPhone

  5. Maria you are such a beautiful, real and amazing woman. Thank you for being authentic – I learn so very much from you!! Keep the photos coming…I am LOVING them!!!

    Mwah!!!! Joanne

    ps…start taking care of yourself for ALL of us!!

  6. Hi Maria, How wonderful that you did this for yourself but so great for Mia. I have always believed that our children need to know that we make mistakes but that no matter what, they are always, always safe and loved by their parents UNCONDITIONALLY. Giving her that is just paramount in her life. I am very happy that you are loving Portugal, but even happier that you are going to take care of yourself. You deserve it. You are loved and missed.

  7. It’s true! It’s true! You do rock Maria! You teach your children so much more than even you can imagine. Next take a day and be the child, let the girls take care of you and plan the day? How about a day when you let activities choose you? That’s a day I want to hear about too.
    XOXOXO Nancy

  8. See how many people identify with this ” dark side of parenting”! I agree its important to take responsibility for our behavior and even, at times , to apologize for it. I remember the first time I circled back into the room and said….to my kids total amazement….” Okay, your mother just had a moment of poor parenting.” And its amazing how gracious they can be. Lessons for everyone. Keep on trucking Mama!

  9. There is always good and bad in everything. So awesome that you were open enough to hear what I said. Thank you. Just know that you are doing the best you can and that you are loved on both sides of the Atlantic.

  10. Nobody is perfect. We all have moments of weekness. We all get caught up in the moment sometimes and forget why we are there. As a single parent when my husband was away to FL every other week, stress can add up also. When responsibilities are shared it is a lot easier. Being a single parent is very difficult and I give all the credit to those who do it all the time. Pressures build… That you were able to recognize this is truly wonderful. Children need to know that were aren’t perfect and that you were able to show her that is wonderful. I am so happy for both you and Mia.

  11. Maria, Thanks for sharing. You are extremely honest and most people would not even admit that they yell at their kids and lose their temper. Let me tell you what I have learned. As a child I was the youngest of 5. My mother was a very stressed, loving, hardworking, loyal person. She had a horrible up bringing and she herself had been beat and abused as a child. Growing up, my mother lost her temper frequently. She yelled a lot, and hit my older siblings. I learned how to behave so as to not be hit or yelled at frequently. I was in a Loving/Fearful relationship with my mom. I loved her dearly, yet she scared the crap out of me at times! (lol). But she tried to do a better job than what she was taught, and mellowed out over the years. When I became a mother, I made a very very very big promise to myself and to the children I had not get given birth too. I did not want to be the yelling screaming, angry hitting mom, that I grew up with. Don’t get me wrong, my mom was also extremely nurturing to me, taught me love of the gardens, cooking, beach and other things, but she had faults.

    I can say that there were times that I broke the promise, and did lose my temper, but pretty mild. I can say I do not ever yell at my kids, I just do not feel I need to. I may take things out on my husband and am cranky with him, hehehe, but I have founs such peace, in being peaceful with my kids, and spouse. I just don’t let things get to me that way. Nothing gets me that mad. I have had some shouting matches with my eldest daughter and lost my cool a couple of times with her, and hated myself for reacting to her that way, but boy does she know how to push those buttons, I hadn’t realized existed.

    Needless to say none of us are perfect and the fact that you recognize your weaknesses, you can then build on that and strengthen yourself, when you feel like you are going to lose it. It is like a bad migraine, if you take something well before it gets bad, it isn’t nearly as bad as if you had just not taken anything for it. So when you feel that feeling, well before, and you know what it feels like, repeat the words “Ok Maria, Get a grip, and take a deep breath”, then laugh at yourself! Trust me it works. Good luck!

  12. You are one TRULY awesome person and mother! Thank you for this blog post, it came when *I* needed it the most. (((HUGS)))) to you and your beautiful girls!

    PS, I personally LOVED the lesson/terms!!

  13. Great work, Maria! I’m proud of you!

  14. i like this blog and what it posts. its great because i get to get in touch with such awesome people!!

  15. Pretty sure that this is my favorite installment of your blog to date. I think that we’ve all been there at some point in our children’s lives, and the way you dealt with it was so much more effective than a simple I’m sorry. Thank you for sharing!

  16. Wonderful and truthful blog. I love to read them. You’re amazing. 🙂

  17. Thank you for your authenticity and perfectly,imperfect humanness. I completely and utterly resonate with every word. Parenting is the most complex paradox of all. The most challenging, yet the most wonderful thing in the world. You are doing a magical job, Maria. xoxox

  18. Thanks again for being so authentic, Maria – it helps us to admit and then forgive our own dark sides. And YES!! I’d love to learn Portuguese terms and culture!

  19. Being a parent is the hardest thing I have ever done…. I can relate to this post! There are days when I “lose” it too.. You are not alone. Perhaps its the daily bump and grind of life. Somedays I feel like I’m doing it all. And my family just expects me to do just that. I’m not Wonder Woman!! I get fustrated and do yell- alot! Its something I have to work on daily. I have to realize nothing is perfect and neither am I.. I think I shall write a letter to each of my precious babies. Thanks for being honest and real Mariaaaaaaa!! Xo

  20. I have felt that way all week with my daughter. The guilt from screaming at her because I didn’t understand that she is learning new behaviors from kids at school. Her first time at pre- k. I’m also not taking care of myself at all. Thank you for making me realize I’m not alone.

  21. Maria,

    This is so the post I needed to read today…funny how God works through all of us that way! Thank you for inspiring as always and sharing your wisdom with the rest of us! Its nice to know that no matter where in the world, we women share the same issues. I am currently reading a book “Having a Mary heart in a Martha world” and it is about the struggle we all have as women with the part of us that feels the need to do it all and not ask for help and the part who just wishes to slow down, listen and trust in what God is trying to say to us. I think the letter writing is wonderful. I wrote a poem for my daughter that was also published and also I do scrapbooking for her so that she can see the love I have for her in my journaling the snippets of her life. I think I may need to take your lead and send a letter to my father. He and I recently had a falling out due to an argument. He has inner demons and alcoholism and there are times too frequent to mention that these come out full force. As the child of an alcoholic, my life is speckled with these bad memories and this last argument was my last straw. I told him that I need to let go entirely. In a way I am doing just that by avoiding him, however, I can’t stop worrying about him, my mother, what if he gets behind the wheel of the car, what if an argument goes too far. I feel that perhaps in a letter I can begin a healing process. Even if he may NEVER change, I can. The disease is his, but the healing is mine. I may never even send the letter, but I think I need to write it. Blessings to you Maria and thank you for sharing your life with all of us!

  22. Mia is a very fortunate child. We are all human and stress takes it’s toll on all of us. For you to apologize to her was so respectful of who she is. Wow, that wouls have gone a long way when I was a child…. a very long way. Much love, C

  23. This blog tugs at my core. Once again, it is clear that you are coming from the most authentic place.

    Oh, how the divine within us all urges us to see ourselves and everyone in that right and beautiful light! And that same divine takes us by the hand and nurtures us, encourages us to do the dailies that keep us moving forward in the most loving way without the guilt or shame. You are unfolding beautifully in Portugal. you and your little angels, no matter what. I am encouraged by this to make some self-nurturing movement and practice more loving care to those around me immediately, and, yes, to stay open for amends that need to be made. Thank you!

  24. Number one, be kind to yourself always! And get the shoulds out of your system too. Make life a flow of good feelings and kindness to yourself as well as to others and you’ll do the right things for yourself without having to do the exact “right” regimens to start your day. Life is a gift, so treat it like that.

    I’m still learning these things myself, as I sometimes get into beating myself up, for what I didn’t do right as a Mom and just things in general.

    Keep up the good work. Beautiful picts of the area. Should be a great place to relax! Try not to take on the responsibility of more than what you can do — let the book take on it’s life at a pace where you don’t lose your soul in the process. Some Africans have a philosophy of “waiting until your soul catches up” rather than go too fast in life.

    Love to you and the kids,

    Linda D.

  25. Thanks for inspiring me to write a letter to Josie. She writes them to me a lot and I’ve taken it for granted. Time to write her one back and tell her how much I love her!

  26. Hi Dear Maria,
    You especially touch my heart with this one today…thank you for being authentically you…it helps me to be authentically me. I miss you! Much love to you and your girls, Jennifer

  27. I forgot- Just an idea that came as I was reading your book. Perhaps in the future you may want to make butterfly moms bumper stickers. I wonder how many are out there? I would definitely beep and give a big smile and wave to a fellow butterfly member if I saw her!

  28. Maria I totally agree with you about self care. I too yell and yell at my kids and the whole day becomes distraught with getting things done. Well said. YES I read your Portugal cultural comments and words. Much love…Janelle

  29. Maria, thanks for posting this. Most people just go on autopilot with habits. Be a spiritual person takes a lot more work!! Good for you. The phrase that was told to me lately was RESIST NOTHING. You saw this on my wall. It is such a great stance to have at the beggining of the day. Why right now I am using it with my husband’s sarcasm!
    I get sooo cranky after 9p if my kids are arguing or are still talking in their room. They are learning on there own now the longer they are up the harder it will be on them to get up so I can sort of say my peace and let go. At least more than I have! Anyway, the truth always lends itself to relief. For you and for all of us reading about it. So THANK YOU!

    The perfect mom myth died LONG AGO.

    xxxxYOU are amazing and brave and I admire your courage and sense of adventure!!

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