Mothers talk about a lot of things. But rage? Nu-uh. That’s one dirty little secret we’re keeping to ourselves.
Please note: this post deals with mild, manageable bouts of anger – stuff we all deal with from time to time. If you think you might be suffering from something bigger, like depression, please seek help.
When my first child was two years old, I typed two words into Google: Mother + Rage. It had been a rough day, involving a migraine, three toddler meltdowns, texta marks down the hallway, and an entire bowl of spaghetti dumped on the floor. So, when I sat down at the computer that night, my fingers just kind of slipped over the keyboard, tapping out the two words that had been bubbling inside me all day.
To be honest, I thought there’d be a whole community of mothers out there raging about their … rage. But only one relevant article popped up, and it was written way back in 1998. Still, I read that Salon article and rejoiced – someone (thank you Anne Lamott) had named the confusing kaleidoscope of feelings I was having as a new mother. Even if it was 15 years ago.
A few more years passed…
I had my second child, and out of curiosity I typed those two words into Google again. The results hadn’t changed much. That same 1998 article popped up, but other than that, there wasn’t a meme or a hashtag or any kind of article flowing through my feed that even touched on maternal rage.
Now to be clear, I’m not talking about the mildly disapproving mother, shaking her head and rolling her eyes, Carol-Brady-style. I’m talking rage. The white-hot monster you never knew you had inside of you until you became a parent. It’s rare and unpredictable, but it shows up when sh*t gets real. It’s there when paint gets dumped on your brand new rug. It’s there when you get woken for the third time in one night. It’s there when no one will put on their shoes and the school bell is about to ring in five minutes.
You know it right?
I suspect we all do. But then, I don’t know for sure, because I’ve never heard other mothers really talk about it. Which is odd, considering how good we are at talking about everything else. Depression, loneliness, fear, gruesome gastro stories: I’ve had so many important, honest conversations with my mum-friends over countless cups of tea. But the one thing we don’t do, is rage. We don’t swap stories about the time we shouted so loudly we hurt our throats. Or the time we screamed into a pillow because we’d been pushed so very, very far that day.
But wait – just hold that thought for a minute. I sense this is the point where any sane mother-writer would insert a personal disclaimer. Something along the lines of: Look, I get angry sometimes, but I really really love my kids and wouldn’t change a thing (ps. please don’t judge me). But I’m not going to waste your time with that. Because I know, that you know, I love my kids. We all do. Let’s move on.
Now I’m six years into this parenting thing
I’m slowly figuring out which situations press my buttons. That I’m not my best self at three in the morning. That I struggle when my husband is away a lot. That just like my two-year-old, my own meltdowns are mercurial – they come and they go. I get shouty for a second, but no one gets hurt. And I know for sure that one of my six-year-old’s messy peanut-butter sandwiches makes everything better.
What else helps? Talking about it. Admitting that some days we reach so deep for our children, we need a little help resurfacing. I also suspect that a cup of tea and a reassuring smile from another mother would also do wonders.
Any thoughts? Are we ready to share?