You ever see the mom raising her voice at her children in a Target parking lot while her child is throwing a tantrum and think “why is she so angry?!”.
Or hear the mom behind you in the doctor’s office sighing out of frustration. Yea, we all know that mom. Because in some ways, we’ve all been that mom.
You see, anger, or sometimes known as mom rage, knows every mom. It doesn’t skip zip codes or social statuses. It’s in every house, on every street, in all corners of the world. And you know why I can say this in confidence? It’s because anger is normal.
Motherhood is not the exception to a natural emotion.
Now anger is definitely expressed differently depending on the person. Some mamas might physically/verbally express their anger – yelling, storming off, turning red in the face.
While some mamas might withdraw when angered – shutting down, silent treatment, zoned out.
Both of these responses are signs of protection from our more vulnerable feelings.
Anger is considered a secondary emotion. This means before we experience anger we experience primary feelings first. These feelings could be embarrassment (hello mama in the Target parking lot), frustration, hurt, grief, anxiety, depression, resentment, fear, and the list continues.
For example, when your children are running around the house and you yell for them to stop running, you really are afraid they’ll hurt themselves.
Or sometimes if you get agitated with your spouse for not helping as much as you’d like, maybe it’s because you didn’t get much sleep last night from worrying about the sick baby.
It helps to imagine anger as an iceberg.
What we see is only the tip of what’s happening underneath.
Let’s take the woman in the Target parking lot for example. We see the anger through her physical frustration but what we don’t see is what happened 30 mins, 2 hours, or even a day before this incident in the parking lot.
Maybe she just found out she was pregnant again and is anxious about the future. Possibly, her husband is out of town for the third week in a row and she is running on empty.
Maybe after reading that you’ve softened your thoughts about this mom. And I hope in that you’ve softened your heart about you too.
Motherhood can present many opportunities for us to be angry with ourselves, spouses, and children. We juggle so many different roles and tasks and the expectations to perform as supermom who has no feelings, is selfless, and has a spotless house can truly be overwhelming.
Anger wants so desperately to be our friend and protect us from feeling overwhelmed, hurt, or afraid. But it can sometimes protect us in a way that we don’t feel comfortable with.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT MOM RAGE?
Here’s a few things that might be helpful in managing mom rage.
- Realize that anger is normal and does not mean you are a bad mom if you fee it.
- Identify the primary emotion your anger is telling you about. “Am I hurt? Afraid? feel rejected?”
- Practice deep breathing and/or coping skill you can do anywhere (grounding, mindfulness, prayer/meditation)
- Consider creating a phrase to repeat to help you recognize your anger and calm down. Such as: “This is tough but it’s only temporary”.
- Give yourself grace and know that managing anger takes time.
I hope you know that your anger does not define you as a mom and that you feel a little more empowered to manage anger when she steps up to try to help you.