Courtesy of California Association of American Mothers
OK. You did it. You lost your temper and turned into a Hulk, a witch, fiery-dart breathing dragon, and you crushed your little loved ones’ spirits, you spanked their little bottoms, or threw things, but you definitely yelled and said vile things about how awful they are. The angry words came out faster than you could catch them. And now you feel horrible. You are the worst mother ever. Your poor terrified kids would be better off in an orphanage than living with you. They cry. You cry. And the worst part is, this is a normal day.
Mommy rage: We know it’s bad. What we don’t know is how to change ourselves into the patient, loving, long-suffering, unflappable mother we long to be. All we know to is to try harder. Next time we won’t let ourselves get angry. We’ll show more self-control. We won’t ever let ourselves act like that again. But we do. You may have been a calm, serene person BC (before children), but somehow kids help us discover the temper we never knew we had.
Julie Ann Barnhill, who wrote She’s Gonna Blow! Real Help for Moms Dealing with Anger, says it’s often the ‘little’ things in our everyday lives that are the most likely to send us over the edge.
“Anger is the most powerful of all emotional experiences… The only emotion that activates every muscle group and organ of the body, anger exists to mobilize the instinctual fight-or-flight response meant to protect us from predators.” But our children aren’t predators.
The funny thing about anger, as strong as the emotion is, it is often a secondary emotion, one we experience because we aren’t dealing with the primary emotion. Most often our anger comes because of fear. We fear our children will get hurt or will hurt someone else, we fear looking like a failure, we fear they won’t love us, that they’ll bomb out at school and thus life, that they’ll grow up to be liars or thieves, or living on the streets.
Other emotions that can hide under anger are hurt, frustration, disappointment, grief, guilt, loss, or a feeling of inadequacy, or even the unfinished business of your own childhood.
For example, “for some people, a crying baby becomes a signal not of the child’s needs but of the parent’s abject failure. The inability to comfort a distressed baby, or at least to stop the crying, is the leading cause of child abuse, shaken-baby syndrome, and infanticide.”
Read this article in it’s entirety here.