Photo by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash
As mothers we expect ourselves to be nurturing, patient, and kind. But what happens when the reality of motherhood sets in?
It’s 11pm and I have been trying to get my son back to sleep for the last 45 minutes. His warm precious body cradled in my arms. My body is aching for sleep. Up and down. Up and down. My low back cries out from the incessant bouncing on the ball. We have spent so many nights just like this one. Holding each other in the sweetest embrace, but tonight I begin to lose it. As I stare into the darkness, hot tears begin to roll down my cheeks. I am coming undone.
Does this sound familiar?
The rage boils under our skin. We feel out of control. We take pleasure in the fantasy of destruction. Imagining what it might feel like to smash things, shatter plates, punch walls, and tear this world apart. We become volcanic heat and fury buried under tears of overwhelm.
Mom rage can take many different shapes and forms. You may have experienced completely different feelings or sensations that you didn’t even equate with rage, like feeling shut down, misdirected anger at your partner, shame, or despair.
With clenched fists and deep breaths the storm passes, and we begin to wonder.
“What is wrong with me?”
The guilt and shame take hold, and our resentment gets buried deep.
As mothers we grieve the loss of freedom and control. Full nights of sleep, following our own rhythms, and the ability to always put ourselves first are all a thing of the past. This sudden and dramatic loss of our needs being met freely, in combination with the many responsibilities of motherhood can lead to the feeling of being out of control.
As many mothers find themselves buried under a mountain of responsibility, the smallest things become major triggers for our rage.
What does mom rage looks like
Feeling irritable and easily angered
Snapping at your partner or child
Blaming others for your emotions.
Feeling like no one else can do it right or get it done
Feeling abandoned by your partner/community.
Raising your voice
Feeling easily overwhelmed
Mom rage is often followed by a spiral of guilt, shame, or depression. It’s common for mothers to feel ashamed of their outbursts and unspoken feelings. If this has been your experience, you are not alone, and there is a way to shift this experience. This does not have to be your reality.
What mom rage might be telling you
Mom rage is not anything to be ashamed of. It is your mind and body’s way of communicating that your needs are not being met. The next time you feel your rage bubbling up inside of you, invite yourself to take a look deeper inside and see if you can uncover what needs are going unmet.
You need more time alone.
You don’t feel seen or heard.
You need more support with housework.
You need more help with the kids.
You need to move your body.
You need more time with friends.
You need more sleep.
You need more time in nature.
Contrary to what we are told, a 15-minute shower is not enough to fill our cups. Let’s face it, this is just basic personal hygiene. A shower or a solo trip to the grocery store is not a replacement for alone time. Yes, these little slivers of freedom feel incredible when you have been caretaking all day long, but we need and deserve so much more.
4 Steps to Unravel Mom Rage
Get your needs met! I know — easier said than done, right? One of the biggest barriers we can have to getting our needs met is ourselves. Getting your needs met looks like unapologetically stretching into your desires. It looks like asking for help and speaking up for what you need so that you can have the mental, emotional, and physical space to cultivate a deeper and more nourishing relationship with yourself.
Be gentle with yourself. The high expectations and the pressure to be perfect that often accompany modern motherhood are the perfect storm for mom rage. What would it feel like if your parenting was good enough? If you were good enough? It’s time to embrace that your ‘good enough’ is exactly what your family needs. It’s important to be flexible with ourselves, our partners, and our children.
Take one small, sweet step at a time. As you stare face to face with the growing mountain of your unmet needs, it can feel overwhelming and impossible to get your needs met. Instead of taking a big leap, start with one small, sweet step. Sign up for that class that you’ve been thinking about for the last three months. Find the courage to ask for help, from your partner, your neighbor, or your mom. Ask your co-parent to take over the morning shift with the kids so that you can get some extra rest. As you begin to carve out more and more time for yourself, this practice will get easier and less daunting over time.
Connect with a professional. If you find that you’re struggling to break the cycle of rage on your own, you may want to reach out to a professional for support. Find a coach or therapist who specializes in experience of postpartum and motherhood.
Remember, that your rage is a messenger reminding you to stop putting yourself last. As you become more curious about your own needs, you can begin to take the necessary steps that get you the support you deserve.