"I don't know what I'm doing wrong," Dina told me when I visited her at her home last week. "I only have one child, and still, I am constantly tired, stressed out, and overwhelmed. My daughter misbehaves, so I punish her, but then she does the same infuriating thing two minutes later. For the first time in my life, I feel like a failure."

Sitting together in her kitchen, I remembered back to when Dina was a confident, upbeat, and thriving single woman. In contrast, during our conversation she seemed so tense, so exhausted, so distressed by her frequent power-struggles with her three-year-old daughter. I saw that Dina's frustration had also spilled over to her marriage; even in front of me, Dina bombarded her devoted husband with criticism and angry stares. It was as though she blamed him for not being as miserable as she was.

It was as though she blamed him for not being as miserable as she was While I felt badly for Dina, I knew that her situation was far from unusual. In fact, I recently heard about research that concluded that almost all mothers hit a wall at one point in their mothering careers when they feel they are no longer coping with the demands that motherhood places upon them.

For some mothers, like Dina, they hit this wall when their first child is born, and their baby is high-needs, or grows up to become a demanding toddler. For some mothers, this point arrives when their firstborn becomes a sibling, and they must meet the pressing needs of two children at once. For others, the crisis comes when they have three children, and they suddenly find that they have more children than hands to take care of them.

I personally was a member of this last group. Having grown up in a supportive and loving family, during my early years of motherhood I believed that I was immune to the problems that drove other mothers to seek help from parenting books or courses or experts. All of these resources, I believed, existed for bad mothers, not natural-born mothers like me.

But my third child's birth five years ago burst my bubble. I suddenly found myself living in fear of the afternoons when my two older children came home from nursery school and kindergarten. The only way I found to cope with the stress and anxiety of caring for three children was by staggering my children's naps so that no more than two children would be awake at any given time.

Out of the blue, everything in my life felt overwhelming - taking care of my kids, feeding them, cleaning up the messes they left behind. I felt like I was drowning in my life, like I had been thrown into the middle of the Atlantic with no lifeboat in sight.

At the time, I would have given anything to avoid this difficult period. But in retrospect, I realize that this crisis was in fact a huge blessing.

People tend to continue to put up with the status quo Today I understand that while a given situation in our lives is still bearable, people tend to continue to put up with the status quo, no matter how unsatisfactory it is. It is generally only a crisis that has the power to force us to take the necessary steps to improve our lives.

We learn this same lesson from the Passover story. The Chassidic commentary, the Beit Yaakov, explains that over the centuries the Israelites had come to terms with and accepted their lives as slaves. It was only after G‑d spoke with Moses that the Jewish people realized that they were children of G‑d and that they deserved to be free. They understood for the first time in 210 years of slavery that their lives could be different, that their lives could be better.

It was at that point that the Jewish people experienced a crisis. Suddenly, the pain and humiliation of their lives as slaves became absolutely unbearable to them, and they screamed out to G‑d.

That scream was the beginning of the end of slavery. That scream was a prerequisite for the redemption of the Jewish people which we celebrate every year at the Passover seder.

So too, in our lives as mothers, it is generally only a crisis that makes us stand up and make the changes that we need to make in order to be better mothers and happier people. In the end, as a result of this crisis, we can transform our lives in order to make them better than ever before.

My own crisis five years ago caused me to make some basic changes in my lifestyle. These are changes that I would recommend to any mother, like my friend Dina, who feels like she is treading water in the middle of the Atlantic, with no help in sight.

1. Remember that a Mother is like a Fitted Sheet.

Years ago a wise woman taught me that every mother is like a fitted sheet that is a touch too small on a bed that is a touch too big. No matter how perfectly-made the bed appears to be when you are standing beside it, underneath that quilt, one of the sheet's four corners is coming up.

One corner of this woman's life is paying a price for this illusion of perfection All of us know mothers who seem to have all four corners of their lives tucked in. They have perfect children, spotless homes, flawless marriages, impressive careers. But in almost all cases, one corner of this woman's life is paying a price for this illusion of perfection, whether that corner is her children, her marriage, or her mental health.

Unfortunately, most of us mothers spend our lives emulating these "perfect" mothers, spending our lives rushing around the bed, trying frantically to keep all of the corners of our lives down.

Five years ago, I made a decision to stop this mad race around the bed. I decided that if one corner of my sheet was going to be coming up anyway, I wanted to choose which corner was least important to me, so that my top priorities (my marriage, my children, my health, my writing) would stay safely tucked in.

The sheet corner that I decided was at the bottom of my priority list was the domestic corner. I decided to find a cleaning lady to help me out once a week. I stopped making a hot dinner on weekdays. I started using disposable dishes for Shabbat meals, and cooking simpler meals with fewer dishes so that I would have a chance to rest on Friday afternoons. These small steps to reduce the burden of that fourth corner had a dramatic cumulative effect on my happiness and my ability to cope as a mother.

2. Get Advice from the Experts.

Every mother faces parenting and personal issues that leave her stumped.

Do yourself and your family a favor, and join a local parenting class or support group. Or read a recommended self-help or parenting book Or call a more experienced mother or parenting expert whom you respect to get some insight into your situation.

Five years after my own crisis, I still attend a regular parenting class that provides me with a lot of inspiration and guidance, and I frequently consult books and more experienced mothers to figure out solutions to puzzling and troubling situations. Once I finally turn for help, I am usually amazed to realize just how common or easily-solvable my issues are.

3. Improve your Diet.

Diet has a huge impact on your mood. I used to start every day with a cup of coffee with two heaping tablespoons of sugar. Looking back, I realize that this unhealthy way of jump-starting myself at the beginning of every day was a major contributing factor to my feelings of stress and anxiety following my third birth.

My diet has a direct effect on my ability to stay calm and relaxed Since then, I have stopped eating sugar, caffeine, and white flour. I met with a dietician to get on a good, healthy diet, which means that I eat a lot more vegetables, protein, and strange foods like wheat germ and ground linseeds that contain vital nutrients that mothers need.

I cannot exaggerate the positive impact that being more careful about my diet has had on my mothering life and on my general happiness. I have seen that my diet has a direct effect on my ability to stay calm and relaxed with my children, and to maintain a positive outlook on life.

4. Take Responsibility for your own Happiness.

Nobody enjoys having a mother or a wife who is a long-suffering martyr. The greatest gift that you can give your family is not a gourmet home-cooked meal, or a swept living room, or even a trip to the zoo. The greatest gift you can give your family is a happy mother, who is well-rested, well-fed, and who takes time to invest in herself emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Instead of blaming your husband or your children or your boss for the fact that you feel overworked, overwhelmed, and underappreciated, next time you find yourself grumbling, ask yourself what YOU can do at that moment to make yourself happy. I have realized that, in general, the answer to this question is ridiculously simple. I need to take a kid-less walk to the corner store to pick up some eggs. I need to lie down to rest for fifteen minutes. I need to ask my husband to put the kids to bed that night so that I can eat some yogurt and veg out on the sofa.

Remember, it's no fun to be a martyr, and it's even less fun to live with one.

When motherhood hits a rough patch, it can be painful, frustrating, and disappointing. It could also be an opportunity to make some fundamental changes in your lifestyle so that your life could become dramatically easier and better. It could be an opportunity to scream out, as our ancestors did in Egypt, in order to achieve your very own personal mothering Exodus.