Being a mom is no easy task. So, why is there so much pressure on us to perform at our peak 24/7? “Mom rage” is something so many of us experience. But the biggest problem is that not many of us are comfortable speaking about it publicly. If you’ve experienced that rage with your children, this article is for you.
Mom Rage Is Real
As moms, we wear a million hats most days — we are the head chef, chauffeur, nurse, tutor, maid, and more. With all these responsibilities and efforts toward being a good mom and partner, this is where the rage can set in. We ask ourselves, “Why don’t I have the help?” “Why am I doing all this and then some alone?” “When do I have time for myself and not only for my family and children?” If you feel this way, you’re not alone!
What Is Mom Rage and Where Does It Come From?
Motherhood is a time of great stress and responsibilities, and it can sometimes be hard to navigate. The term “Mom Rage” has become increasingly popular and gained traction in a post by author and mother Minna Dubin for the New York Times.1 She explored the term as linking rage, or angry mothers, to the contradiction many women face regarding motherhood and how they are expected to express their emotions. The concept of a “good mother” is that she will appropriately manage her emotions, revel in “mother work,” and scrutinize and manage her behavior to be a role model for her children.2,3
In essence, mom rage can be described as uncontrolled episodes of anger associated with elements of mothering. These episodes are thought to be driven by feeling powerless or stressed or the injustice of expectations and demands.4 Women may become trapped by the ideals and expectations of motherhood (that they should be ultimately patient and feel continually joyful), and they feel immense stigma, guilt, and shame when they respond to their feelings of anger.4,5 In suppressing their anger, or pushing aside their needs alongside unrealistic expectations, it makes it hard for them to talk about or address the things driving the anger . . . which leads to more anger. Mom rage can be a vicious cycle!
What You Can Do To Help Yourself
There are many things people will suggest to help the rage subside — for example, a good night’s rest and alone time to focus on your thoughts and feelings. Or maybe drop a few responsibilities that are not helping the rage and angry feelings. Sure, these may help your everyday human being, but unfortunately for us moms, some of these things never feel attainable because our newborns won’t let us sleep, and our toddlers don’t want to leave our sides. The good news is there ARE some things you can do to help yourself in these situations:
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Comparing yourself to other moms can cause you to feel a lot of rage. Feeling like you’re not keeping up with the Joneses or doing as much as your neighbor down the street is not healthy or helpful. There is a reason why the saying goes, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It makes people feel less than and unworthy, which is far from the truth. All of us moms do things differently, and that’s okay. We’re doing a great job as long as our children are safe, cared for, and loved.
Set Realistic Expectations
Setting realistic expectations for yourself and your family can also help your mom rage. We must remind ourselves what stage our children are in and recognize that tantrums and meltdowns are probably age-appropriate.6 Our kids are learning about their emotions and life. This is why having lower and more realistic expectations can help us remain calm. And keeping calm will help relax many situations you may find yourself in with your children, whether at home or on the go.
So, don’t sweat the small stuff. If something happens that is beyond your control, try to release it. It’s a disservice to you to hold onto anything negative that is not within your power to change. It’s also crucial that you are realistic with yourself. Remember, it’s impossible to be patient (or perfect) 100% of the time.
Take a Mommy Time-Out
I know you may feel like you cannot leave your child or children when it feels like all hell is breaking loose. However, your anger and high emotions are not helping the situation. First, ensure your children are in a safe setting, then step away for a minute or two to breathe. After, you can return to the situation with a more level-headed approach. You will calm the situation and put out the “fires” a lot faster this way.
You Are Not A Bad Mom
It’s important to note that mom rage does not make you a bad person or a bad mother. Children are constantly learning, growing, and pushing their boundaries. As they go through different stages of life, there are things they must grow and learn from that may trigger your “mom rage.”
When they’re newborns, the constant crying might get to you. As they learn to walk, they will constantly get into things they shouldn’t, which can drive you batty. And as they grow up and start to attend school or daycare, they will probably learn things from other children, such as bad words and attitudes, which might make you want to scream! These are all stages we go through as mothers. We each have different coping mechanisms, but sharing our experiences can be helpful.
You Are Not Alone
The anger you’re experiencing can sometimes feel like you’re not cut out for the job as someone’s mom, role model, or superhero. It might make you feel alone, sad, and full of despair. You probably have constant thoughts like, “Am I enough? Am I everything they need and want in a mother figure? Am I doing any of this right?”
It’s important to realize that your child or children are just that — your children. They are surviving and thriving because you care for them. You’re doing the best job you can as their mom. There’s no doubt in their mind that you’re not the absolute best mom they could ever have. You’re a great mom — even if that rage pops up every once in a while.
There is an excellent quote about motherhood by Linda Wooten: “Being a mother is learning about the strength you didn’t know you had and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.” It’s a wild ride, this motherhood thing. We are forced to face uncontrollable circumstances daily, no matter how down and out we may feel. Mom rage can pop up in these instances. But you need to know there’s a whole team of us out there, and you’re far from being the only one experiencing this feeling.