How is it possible to feel anger towards someone you (probably) love more than anything in the world?
When my kids make me angry, that feeling weighs on me more than any of the acts they did to actually get me to that point. So, how do you navigate this feeling when you are already so aware of your own emotions?
Understanding My Anger
I wish there was a moment in my life that would be the “cause” for me ever getting angry at my kids. But the truth is… there isn’t.
I get angry with my kids because I have a heart that beats and a brain that (luckily) functions. I have a body that gets exhausted from sleepless nights and endless chores. I get bored from the lack of adult interaction. There is a point when I just can’t bear changing another doll’s outfit. Or a baby diaper. Or making 7 meals a day.
And so, getting angry with my kids encompasses a daily ritual that sometimes is just Too. Freaking. Boring.
And let’s not confuse boring with “doing nothing.” You can do one thousand things per minute in your day and still feel drained. It doesn’t mean that it’s always boring. Not even that you’d like to be living differently. It simply means that right there, at the moment, you lack something.
What are you lacking in your own life that makes you angry at your kids from time to time?
For me, what I’m usually lacking is a combination of free time plus feeling guilty. Mom-guilt is my number #1 “issue” in my motherhood journey.
I have always been a “free-spirited” person. I would go out to eat at 11 p.m. at night if I wanted to, sometimes I would wake up early on a Saturday morning, pack a bag and start driving until I end up somewhere cool.
My husband and I had dates weekly, I was always surrounded by friends, life was loud and agitated.
The main thing I missed (and miss) is freedom. The freedom to just get up and leave. To grocery shop in peace. Heck, to use the bathroom in peace!
Once you become a mom, those things are gone for a while. And I’m still in the “while”.
And so, I’ve been slowly finding out what works for me.
1. I feel my anger. Give me a good 5 minutes to just be angry (away from the kids) and not try to simply “snap out of it”.
2. I validate my emotions. Taking a few seconds to really think “I am angry because this sucks” or “I am angry because I have just mopped and they threw crackers all over the floor again” and “I am angry because they didn’t sleep all night and now still refuse to nap” or “I am angry because I miss going out alone.” Those are very real reasons that a human being would get angry about.
3. I try not to trap myself into the “guilt” spiral. Things like, “There are moms with kids in the hospital and here I am angry at them for coloring on the walls” are not valid. True, it’s always good to acknowledge your blessings of having healthy, happy kids and a family to care for. But saying things like that invalidate your feelings and, therefore, you don’t work through them. You have a right to feel your emotions.
4. Do not act in anger. I don’t mean to sound cheesy, but this needs to be said. And that’s for everything, especially when it’s about your kids. I am sure you know this, but kids aren’t born malicious or manipulative. They are learning how to navigate through their own little feelings and it’s as hard for them as it is for you, if not more. It’s true, they do not understand WHY they can’t ask the same questions 300 times within a minute even after you’ve told them the answer.
So, for me, I take a beat. If I feel angry, I will step away and let myself feel angry. Cry if I have to. Scream if I need to. I will then come to them and explain, looking in their eyes, why I am angry. And crazy enough, they understand!
Just a few days ago, my almost 3-years-old girl and I had a bad day together. A combination of a bad night, no nap, and pouring rain lead to a difficult day to manage for us.
When my husband got home from work, he saw that we were just not in sync, so, he took her into her room, sat with her, and told her she could cry, scream, whatever she wanted. She was in there with him for a good 15 minutes just crying. And then…silence.
They both came out and she ran to me, and said: “I’m really sorry mommy, I’m ready to sleep now”.
While they were in the room and she was having a meltdown, I was out in the living room having a meltdown of my own. I cried and cried and just felt that anger. So by the time she was hugging me, I was squeezing her back saying “I’m sorry too, mommy is just super tired”.
You see…the both of us didn’t have a good day. It’s easy for me to forget that the tiny human yelling at me isn’t doing that to just make me angry and, while I’m having such a hard time myself, my almost 3-year-old little girl was getting pretty irritated with me too.
But in order for me to comprehend that, I had to first acknowledge, validate and allow my feelings to pour…so that I could let them go.