You woke up from a night of haphazard sleep. There was no hesitation in your toddler’s voice as he demanded breakfast, and then threw a fit as you made eggs instead of a PB&J. Your baby clawed at your legs and cried as you quickly put breakfast on the table. It was too hot. The toddler had another meltdown. You start to slowly feel yourself getting angry, but you brush it off and keep going.
You gave every bit of early morning energy–before your cup of coffee–to both of your kids. You changed the diaper. You forced the toddler to pee on the toilet. You got down on the floor and read a book. Yet, there was unhappiness at every turn. Without noticing, your shoulders began to tense. You calmly poured the juice in the only clean cup on the counter, but there wasn’t a lid. Another meltdown. Your jaw clenched. You tried to stay unruffled and wave off the madness, moving on with your morning. But then the baby cried every single time you put him down.
All of a sudden, the walls in your house started to feel very small. And your children…you didn’t like them. You didn’t like anything. Your chest started to hurt. Trying to fix all of the things that were going wrong seemed both impossible and useless. Your face felt hot. Your hands felt tense. It wasn’t even 9 o’clock in the morning and you had a headache from holding yourself together. You started to feel anger, anxiety, guilt, resentment, and then exhaustion. It wasn’t even 9 o’clock and you had already failed the day.
If you’ve failed a few mornings, I bet you might feel guilty–like me. Why can’t I stay grounded when my toddler throws himself on the floor because I told him he had to put his shoes on? Why can’t I just gracefully walk away from a situation, instead of internally dislocating myself trying to understand or fix it?
Anger doesn’t want you to know “why.” Those aren’t questions that you can ever answer without going into an equally anxiety-riddled quest about your behavior and biochemistry.
Mama, it’s time to honor yourself. Instead of burrowing your brows in search for the magic way to be the Mary Poppins you’ve always wanted to be, maybe you can wave hello to the exhausted and fed up mom you are when you are giving all that you have in return for screeches, tantrums, and clingy babies. Maybe it’s time to let anger happen, and then let it go instead of milking those bad feelings and blaming yourself for not being stronger. You are incredibly strong. I’ve found a few things that help me relinquish my guilt and anxiety about feeling angry, and I wanted to share them with you. Because I know how hard it is to feel angry towards innocent little beings, and I know how amazing it is to let go of that anger and live in love with them, too. Because being an angry mom doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of enjoying life as a mom.
- Hug. When I start to clench my jaw, I know I’m on the polar express to getting angry. And it’s usually over something incredibly small. Even if I don’t recognize in the moment how silly it is that my toddler just slammed the door on me because I made him go pee before running errands, after I draw my boundaries and discipline him, I hug him. Sometimes, when he’s throwing a fit over literally nothing, I get down on my knees and I hold out my arms. I allow myself to realize that he’s a very small person who doesn’t have the perception or experience I do. I am able to feel how fragile he is, how misunderstood he is, and how he is struggling with big and scary emotions. Hugging is the first line of defense against anger. Hugging is the fastest way to honor the struggle and then let it go.
- Get out of the house. Some mornings, I don’t just fail. I literally give up. And instead of letting my walls close in on me, I take the kids and I leave the house. Sometimes, that means getting the car and paying a bill or getting a cup of coffee at the local health food store before another meltdown happens. Sometimes, it means a two hour walk around the park–because my kids love the stroller–and sometimes, it’s going to a friend’s house and just sitting there until I feel enough courage to be alone again. No matter how it happens, getting out of the house is the best way to remove myself from those yucky angry feelings and gain some more energy before I have to get back to being a strong, confident mother. Bonus points if it’s beautiful outside, or if I listen to my favorite music while in the car.
- Play. If I don’t have an appointment to make, the best way to get out of my anger fueling expectations is to get on my kids’ levels and play. Nothing helps you feel like a better mom like making your kids laugh or getting them interested in a book, right? It also relieves tension. Part of what makes adults so grumpy is that we have the weight of the world on our shoulders. We have lost our child-like wonder and sense of freedom.
I’m an angry mom sometimes. Aren’t we all? Watching our children flail and crumble because they can’t eat cookies for breakfast doesn’t have to mean we punish ourselves with anger any longer than that tantrum lasts. We can bow to the woman who is fed up and at the same time open our hearts to the beautiful and raw chaos children bring us.
Here’s to many more mornings, Mama.