Motherhood is tough. If you just want a wonderful little creature to love, you can get a puppy.
Anger during motherhood is a hot topic these days. As a mom of two, I’ve definitely seen my own anger surface at different times throughout motherhood. It’s also something I hear about professionally as a therapist practicing in the state of Texas. None of us are perfect moms, but we strive to be the best moms we can be to our own children. This can be made harder if you didn’t grow up in a supportive home environment when you were a child, as you may be trying to break dysfunctional family patterns and create new, healthier ones for your own family.
When you have gotten angry and “lost it” in the moment with your kids, how do you usually feel afterwards? Many moms feel mom guilt and the script in their heads may say something like, “I feel badly about something I said or did.” Other moms feel mom shame and the script in their head may say something like, “I am a bad mom.” But, as we can’t undo what’s happened, instead of labeling ourselves as “bad” in some way, we can focus on the repair with our children instead.
The repair is doing something actionable at a later time to reconnect with our kids after doing something we regret such as yelling. This may be acknowledging what happened, saying you’re sorry, explaining why your anger got triggered, describing what you’ll do differently in the future to avoid getting so angry again, etc.
After the repair, give your kids time and space to process what you’ve said (depending on their age). Some kids are quick to forgive, give you a hug and move on, while others need more time to move into a place of true forgiveness.
So, where does mom anger stem from? Anger is considered one of the four primary feelings (along with happy, sad and scared), but is actually thought to be a secondary emotion. This means there are typically a lot of feelings underneath the anger, such as overwhelm, irritability, frustration, fear, grief, sadness, agitation, guilt, shame, regret, hurt, pain, disappointment, loneliness, betrayal, stress, etc. to name quite a few. When you feel angry, hone in on where you’re feeling it in your body (so you’re in tune with the signs and signals your body sends you when you’re feeling mad and triggered in the future), name the feeling as “anger,” and ask yourself what deeper emotions are also showing up and why.
Self-care ideas to use when mom anger shows up in your life:
- Go outside/go for a walk
- Focus on mindfulness/your five senses
- Listen to a guided meditation to help calm and ground you
- Focus on your breath
- Tighten and relax your muscles
- Journal/write about it
- Connect with someone who understands how you’re feeling
- Repair any hurts you’ve caused/say you’re sorry
- Forgive yourself/show yourself compassion
- 10.Schedule some alone time to reset
Mommy anger isn’t an enjoyable space to be in or live in for any of us. Try viewing your anger as a symptom of something deeper that’s going on in your life. This can help you figure out what needs aren’t currently being met and what you need to do to take better care of you. When you’re in a better space, you’ll be better able to manage your anger when it shows up. The hope is that you’ll eventually be able to bring your calm with you into the chaos that is motherhood!