S07|08 - Mom Rage in Motherhood and ParentingSep 25, 2023
Why don’t we talk about anger and rage in parenting more? The less we talk about it, the more we shame it. This episode is all about creating a safe space to talk about anger and rage, and where it comes from (typically) and what to do about it in your own life. I’ll also share my own rage story, and how I went from a rage-mom space to (almost) no yelling.
In today’s episode you’ll hear:
- The common causes of mom rage and what you can do about it
- How shame and rage are interconnected, and how to un-shame your anger
- My own story with rage and other postpartum issues
- What healing modalities can help with anger and rage
- How our history and childhood can trigger anger/big emotions in our own parenting
- Where my anger is at now, and how different my life is from doing the healing necessary
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Mom Rage in Motherhood and Parenting
Why don't we talk about anger and rage in parenting more? The less we talk about it, the more we shame it and then perpetuate it even more. This episode is all about creating a safe space to talk about anger and rage, and where it comes from and what to do about it in your own life.
I'll also share my own rage story and how I went from a rage mom space to almost no yelling.
Hello. Welcome to today's podcast, Mom Rage. This is a topic that came up when I was talking to Dr. Maggie Parenting With Perspectacles, and she said that she doesn't feel like people talk about Mom Rage enough.
And it occurred to me that it's not something that I really talk about a lot either. It's definitely something I dealt with. I used to just call it impatience or anger – but looking back on it now and knowing more about the spectrum of emotions and being more in tune with my body and how I'm feeling regularly, I came to realize that what I was dealing with a lot was actually Mom Rage; like, so much Mom Rage.
So, I want to talk a little bit today about where that comes from, and what it is, and what it might feel like in your body; and then when you can actually do tools that you can use today, and help and support and modalities that have helped me and that you can check into that might help you as well.
My experience with Mom Rage
So, first of all, I'm going to talk about my story. I remember giving birth to my first child, and it did not go like I planned. Maybe you can relate to this – but I had planned it to be this like all natural, beautiful, like no drugs magical thing because in our family system, that's how it had happened a lot – and I'd heard lots of stories about that.
So, it just like never even occurred to me that I would need to use drugs. It didn't occur to me that I would ever have anything that wasn't a natural birth. It ended in emergency C-section. It didn't go-- Nothing really went as I had planned.
And honestly, it was probably pretty traumatizing for me because all the decisions had to be made pretty quickly. I already have some past medical history trauma from when I was little. And so, I think that brought up a lot of the things that I was dealing with during my own birth; and I just like kind of broke down.
And after I was in recovery and my child was given to me, and he was amazing and wonderful and beautiful, but he had some difficulties also with breathing and with his lungs. And so, he was in the NICU; and it was just such a stressful and high pressure and intense time.
He also-- We were in the hospital for only a week and before we even got home, he already had started to be colicky. He had really intense colic where he would cry for about 18 hours out of the 24-hour period, 16 to 18 hours every day.
And we would have to be like bouncing him, rocking him. We had this like yoga ball that we'd like bounce on or we'd rock or we'd walk around patting his back. We tried Zantac and all these like indigestion thingies.
His nursing was a struggle, like sleep was a struggle, elimination for him was a struggle; all of the things were a struggle. So, not unsurprising, I've dealt with a lot of Mom Rage.
Looking back, it probably was more like postpartum depression, but it wasn't talked about as openly as it is now; and never was it talked about in anxiety or rage. It was only ever talked about as like, you're sad and you can't get out of bed and you cry a lot.
And that wasn't how it manifested for me. And so, I would've never said that that's what I had. I still don't know if that's what I had because I wasn't diagnosed back then. I did never talk to anybody about it.
I think there was a lot of shame that came from the amount of rage that I felt, but I just was so angry; and a lot of my anger was directed towards my baby because I was like, he just won't stop crying and I can't sleep and I'm so tired.
I never-- Never any point did I feel like it was unsafe. Looking back on it now, I definitely needed support; and it could have for sure just tipped to the-- tipped to it being unsafe for me.
Luckily it never did – but I really wish, looking back on it, that I had received any sort of support or reached out or talked to anybody. But I don't think there was a lot of help that was out there.
And even when I had conversations with like doctors or with public health nurses, I didn't really feel like I could be as open as I wanted to be about what I was feeling because I felt so much shame about the rage that I felt.
What's interesting now is that it's so obvious to me that rage and shame perpetuate each other. And so, I would feel these intense bouts of anger, and then I would feel shame about the anger that I was feeling because I didn't feel like that's how it was supposed to be. Right?
I was supposed to be happy and calm and patient, and whatever it was that I had in my mind was not that – my baby situation didn't turn out the way that I wanted it to. My infant was totally different than what I had ever imagined as far as difficulty level.
So, there was just all these things that I feel like added to that shame. And so, I really just stayed to myself. It wasn't something I talked about to other people or even really to other moms. I didn't--
The because I wasn't opening up, I didn't have that support in my community – also, in my own little village also because it wasn't something that I was talking about a lot.
But I remember just feeling really disheartened and really sad and really angry a lot of the time. Fast-forward to my child as a toddler and still really difficult, still a really difficult – what I would've called – a really difficult child…really busy, really angry himself, fairly anxious. Like, there was just a lot of things that made it pretty tough.
And again, I'm still just dealing with this anger, this feeling of anger all the time, and these impatient outbursts that I would have. Like I would get these intense feelings of anger and then they would almost like overwhelm me; and then I would feel really bad, and then the shame would make the anger worse.
So, again, didn't really matter what phase of motherhood; I had some amount of shame, anger, rage regularly. And a lot of it came from me also wanting something so different.
I saw a lot of anger and rage in my own childhood and in my friends' homes in childhood, and I really didn't want that. And so, I think it perpetuated the shame even more because that was something very specific that I had decided I didn't want, and was the very thing that I was dealing with.
I always thought of myself as a patient person; I kind of thought parenting would be pretty easy actually. I had a lot of kids that I babysat for a lot of years, I had a lot of siblings; I was around kids all the time.
I kind of thought it would be a breeze. And so, I think there was shame from that, like this feeling of like, 'Why is this so difficult, and why can't I parent in the way that I want to?'
You might not relate to this – maybe shame or anger or rage isn't your thing, isn't the thing that you deal with in parenting, but it is for me and I feel like it's something that really needs to be talked about more.
And as I started talking to Maggie about it on the podcast, I thought; this is something I really need to start talking about on Instagram and on the podcast more so that people that do feel this way, don't feel like they have to feel shame about the anger and the rage that they're feeling.
So, one of the things that I think is so amazing and so hopeful, and I hope it gives you hope, is that I really thought I was kind of like a lost cause. Like, I'm just never going to be able to get over this impatience thing. Like, this is just something I'll deal with forever.
And honestly, I prayed about it a lot and never felt like it was getting helped for years and years and years until I found different kind of healing modalities and started working more internally on myself.
I know we like talk about this healing journey, like it's this obscure thing, but there's actually specific tools that can help with your healing journey. And for me, when I started to go on this healing journey, one of the things that really changed was anger for me.
And I felt less triggered and less intensely triggered over time; and that's how I feel now. I haven't felt rage in years. In fact, I can actually remember the last time that I felt it because it is so strong.
It's such a strong emotion for me, and it was so overwhelming and usually led to me screaming or yelling or saying unkind things to people around me; and it was during my life coaching certification, I started in 2019.
And this is the time when I really started to notice my thoughts and my feelings and my actions, and how they were related; and what was happening with my brain, and started to work on things.
And so, it was the first time that I remember feeling rage and having kind of an intense overreaction to something, but then like halfway kind of noticing that. And I shut the bedroom door, left the situation, and just sat in the hallway and cried.
And I was really sad that that had happened. And I was really sad that I'd overreacted and that I was feeling this rage still. But I also felt hopeful because I was like, 'I paused, I stopped myself, and I am so much more aware now of what's happening in my thoughts.'
But when something is really connected to like past subconscious beliefs or like intrinsic shame, it's not something you can just think your way out of. So, I didn't find that the model or the mindset tools helped me as much as I wanted them to; I needed to find something else also.
Things that helped to reduce my Mom Rage
So, for me things that have helped have been things like meditation, trigger work or shame work, where I actually do more somatic work. Somatic is in the body, so I go into my body and do processing emotions that way. Hypnotherapy, breath work, things like that.
Definitely understanding and uncovering what my triggers are, for sure, which is part of the mindset work – like, what is actually happening here?
But then I would say the rest of the work is more either inner child healing or hypnotherapy or breath work or guided meditation; something that takes you more into your body and less in your brain, which has been really a powerful part of my journey of healing.
I actually don't hardly feel anger anymore, either; and when I do, it's more irritation or frustration, which I feel like is a lower level. It doesn't feel as angry anymore, and I think that is why I don't yell anymore. And it wasn't because I tried to stop myself and tried to just like figure out the whole yelling thing, it was because I started to work internally on my healing.
Mom Rage is often referred to as like mom anger or parental anger. People often just say anger – but for me, looking back I'm like, 'No, it was like rage.' It was like, 'I'm seeing red rage.'
And I think that rage is that intense and really uncontrollable feeling of anger where sometimes I kind of felt like I was outside myself. Like I didn't even, I wasn't even in charge of my reaction anymore. It was really kind of like an out of body experience.
I think that rage and anger is a normal part of the human experience; I think especially because we came from homes where emotions weren't necessarily validated or talked about, we didn't learn Emotional Intelligence – we didn't learn nervous system regulation. So, a lot of us are having triggers come up as well.
I have learned in the past that a trigger comes from a wound, and those wounds come from anytime that we haven't been given exactly what we needed in that moment by our adult caregiver – by our secure attachment.
And so, all of us are going to have wounds because we could never potentially, there's no scenario in which we can always give somebody what they need all of the time, right? Because we're all human and we all have imperfections, and we're taking care of ourselves and taking care of our children.
And so, that's why perfection isn't the goal because it's impossible; we're never going to get there – but we can use these triggers to teach us, and to guide us, and to help us learn and grow. So, I think it is common.
It's common due to the stress, to challenges. It's common due to poverty, to prejudice. There's so many things that are going to affect us being triggered or not.
When anger is frequent or intense or disruptive, or when it feels like you're going to hurt yourself or others, I highly recommend reaching out to a medical professional.
The advice that I give on this podcast is not medical professional advice; I am not a medical professional. And also, the suicide hotline numbers can be helpful. Reaching out to a supportive adult or caregiver in your area, somebody that you're connected to or that you love and just telling them that you're having feelings like this. I think so much of it is this shame of like, I can't talk about it. And so, talking to somebody about it can be really healing.
Factors that can contribute to Mom Rage
So, there's a lot of factors that can contribute to Mom Rage.
1. Sleep deprivation
And one that I didn't really think about before, which is like so obvious is sleep deprivation. I actually think there needs to be more studies on postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety and postpartum rage and sleep deprivation because I think that they're so intrinsically connected.
Every single person that I've ever talked to that was dealing with postpartum depression and anxiety had difficulty sleeping also. Either they would wake up regularly or their babies would wake up regularly, or they couldn't sleep when their baby was sleeping; and they were all sleep deprived.
I've never one time had a conversation with somebody where they were sleeping well through the night, getting a good night's rest, and they had told me that they were suffering from PPD or PPA.
So, I just want you to think about that – like, if you are suffering from that or if you have, how was your sleep? Because parenting, often in those early stages, involve so much disrupted sleep patterns that it can be so difficult for us to get those hours of sleep that we need that are uninterrupted for our brain.
Sleep deprivation, for sure, affects your mood, your ability for your brain to function well and effectively – emotional regulation, so it's going to make you more susceptible to irritability and anger.
So, looking back on those times when I had an infant and then when I had a toddler – because then again, I had another infant – it makes so much more sense that I was feeling the intensity of the Mom Rage then.
Even looking back on a few years ago – like I said, in 2019, that was four years ago – my oldest child, or my youngest child was three and still not sleeping through the night…still nursing and still waking up regularly.
In fact, I probably had just stopped nursing her, but still waking up all the time. I definitely was sleep deprived. There were several nights that I had full insomnia where I wouldn't sleep at all through the night; that's something that I've worked through, through hormone cycle tracking…and then also through mindset work and meditation, and almost entirely cured my insomnia.
Maybe I'll do another episode on that, but sleep deprivation isn't something I deal with anymore, and I think that is definitely correlated to Mom Rage.
2. Stress and overwhelm
Another one is just stress and overwhelm. So, having like lots of responsibilities, lots of invisible burden responsibilities as well – especially if we're not doing something for our mental emotional health.
So, if we don't have a coach or a therapist that we're working through this with, if we don't have some sort of modality that we're working through, that stress and that overwhelm can be really intense.
Especially if you have lots going on, right? Like lots of little kids or maybe you have a job or maybe you have a neurodiverse child; those can make things really stressful and overwhelming.
And I'll also add kids, kiddos that are neurodiverse add an extra kind of burden of responsibility as far as like you're dealing with a lot more than what you might be with a neurotypical child – and then maybe you're feeling shame because of that, and maybe feeling shame because you're not doing a good enough job or whatever.
And you can really start to burden yourself down, especially if you're not getting the help and support that you need for yourself and for them and for your family.
3. Lack of personal time
Another one can be lack of personal time. So, especially with moms, we can get into this mom guilt space where we don't spend time on ourselves – but, in fact, it's when we don't spend times on ourselves that we parent worse than we want to.
Those are the times when we're more short, when we're more angry, when we're more stressed out, when we yell more…is actually when we're not taking care of ourselves.
And so, taking care of yourself in a really deep and nourishing way – like I think of self-care as how I treat myself, especially in my brain…what are my thoughts and beliefs about myself? What is my relationship with myself like? How do I treat myself? What do I spend time on when it comes to myself? How am I caring for my body, mind, and spirit? And giving myself that time.
4. Unrealistic expectations
I think another thing that comes up is unrealistic expectations. Especially with social media when it comes to like Instagram and things like that, we can look at these perfect little clips because that's usually what we share, right? We don't usually take a picture or video of us screaming at our kids or crying in our closet.
You might see those occasionally, but most of the time, it's going to be these really beautiful pictures of you and your family – and these happy times and those moments do happen, and those moments are wonderful…but those are typically the moments that we share.
And I don't think there's anything wrong with sharing those moments, but I think it's also sharing the reality behind, like, my life doesn't always look like this and I'm struggling too, and this is what can be difficult for me also.
And, one of the-- One of the reels that I posted that did the best was like literally a 15-second video clip showing people my living room, kitchen, dining room area...and how dirty it was.
And people were just like, 'Oh my goodness, I'm so glad that you shared this, it's so…we all think that other people just always have clean houses all the time.'
And I was like, 'Oh, no, no, no, this is like what my house looks like all the time.'
And that's okay. Like, it means that my kids live in it, right? There was like crafts everywhere; and they were like playing games in this one corner, and books in another corner…and that's just a lived-in house. That is realistic expectation.
5. Lack of support
Another one could be lack of support. Like maybe you don't have a partner that you're parenting with or maybe you don't feel that support from your partner.
I would highly suggest going back and listening to the episode, Getting on The Same Page with your partner. I also did a co-parenting peacefully episode with Mikki Gardner that you can check out if you are in that situation where you're the sole parent.
And if you are in a partnership and you want to work on feeling more supported with your partner, this mindset and emotion work that we talk about on this podcast and that I do on my courses and programs and coaching is exactly what will help with that as well. That you don't need to actually change your partner, you can feel more supported even without that.
6. Hormonal changes
Hormonal changes, right? Which is also an overlooked thing that I did when I was dealing with this baby that I had years ago…was that like so many of this, so much of what I was feeling was probably hormonal changes that I'd never felt before, but I didn't know enough about it.
So, postpartum also just like cyclically having hormonal changes – for the last week up, until I recorded this podcast today, I've been feeling so discouraged and so sad and more irritable.
And this time I was able to not make that mean anything about me. I just recognized like, 'Oh, it's because of my cycle…it's because of where I am in my cycle and I know that I'll feel better in just a few days.' And, I did.
And I didn't like attach any like deeper meaning to it about myself or about other people or about my life; I just allowed myself to kind of feel the feelings and allow them to flow.
And one of the things I love that Yung Pueblo teaches on Instagram – and he also is an author and I love all his stuff – is that when you're feeling those big emotions, the depths of sadness, is to not believe the beliefs that you have about yourself.
And so, when I started to notice those thoughts kind of spiral in a negative way about myself, I didn't believe that; I didn't attach meaning to them, I didn't give them much airtime. I just started deep breathing, and I just kind of helped them flow through. And I think meditation has really helped with that as well.
The lack of coping strategies when dealing with Mom Rage
The last thing I'm going to mention is lack of coping strategies. So, maybe you were raised in a home where your parents freaked out when they felt big emotions.
So, the coping strategy that you learned was, when we feel big emotions; we yell, we scream, we rage, we don't know how to handle it. And so, if that was your dynamic when you were a child, that is likely going to play out in the dynamics in your relationships now as an adult. And even if you're trying to change those, those patterns can be really intrinsic and really deeply held.
How to identify and avoid your triggers
And so, just like I talked about those healing modalities, it's just using those healing modalities specifically for this. So, you can go see a therapist or a coach, and you can say, "This is the pattern that I noticed that I'm stuck in, this is the thing that triggers me."
You can even ask yourself like, what about this situation is really triggering me? What thoughts come up there?
And you can kind of uncover for yourself what those triggers are, and then go find somebody that can help you move through those.
And if you're dealing with significant trauma or abuse, you're definitely going to want to go to therapy or counseling. That's what that is for, is to work through those things that are heavier and that need a medical professional.
The importance of seeking help with Mom Rage
Okay, so one of the reasons that we want to deal with this is because we don't want to be reactively parenting. We don't want to be parenting from our triggers, from those triggered emotional responses that we're having.
We want to be more intentional, we want to be more connected, we want me to be more compassionate; and when we're not triggered, it's so much easier to be that way. And so, working through our triggers really helps us to get to a space where we're not feeling rage as much, where we're not feeling anger as much – where we're able to manage our emotions, to regulate our nervous system, and then to respond from that.
How to help regulate your nervous system
One of the tools that I'm going to leave you with, that I've talked about in the past, is called zones – Red Zone, Green Zone, Yellow Zone.
Red Zone would be when we're feeling really intense or big emotions. Now, this can be up emotions or down emotions, right? So, this could be something like strong anger, or it could also be like strong sadness or discouragement or shame.
When we're feeling those big emotions, my goal is always to not react or respond from that. I'm actually going to go walk away, go somewhere else. Like if I'm feeling really triggered, the best thing I can do is like go take time for myself in that moment and not react or respond.
Things that can help you in that moment to regulate your nervous system or things that are going to help…you know, that Vagus Nerve, we've talked about in a couple episodes.
So, this is going to be things like humming or gargling or deep breathing, going on a walk, spending time in nature – doing anything that's going to…that feels better in your body, that brings you back down to that calm space and not responding from that Red Zone.
Yellow Zone is when you're feeling like irritable or irritated or a little bit off or a little bit more melancholy than normal. Same thing; you're just going to go back to those, what helps me get into my body?
That's why I said like nature or gargling or movement, dance, music – something that I can get into my body, something somatic that I can do to help bring myself back down to calm while also reminding myself not to believe the thoughts that I'm having in those moments.
When I'm feeling really big emotions, I don't need to believe anything or attach any meaning about myself or my life or others in that moment.
When I'm back down to my Green Zone, which is where I'm feeling more calm and more neutral and a little bit more joyful or peaceful…in that moment, then I can reassess, what was happening? Like, what was triggering me about that?
And not just like a oh, my child wasn't listening to me. That isn't what's triggering; there's something deeper than that. Like, what about my child not listening is actually bothering me so much? What is really the deeper-rooted problem here?
If you're into Inner Child Healing, you can even ask like, what does my inner child need right now? What is my inner child telling me right now?
You can have a conversation with that emotion, what is rage telling me? If I were to sit down and have a conversation with rage, and rage was sitting right next to me and I was asking it what it has to tell me, what kind of words or phrases would come out for me?
I think guided meditations are really powerful and really helpful. I think adding breath and movement and moving through things in more of a guided meditation way can be really powerful. So, you can find somebody that does that as well. I do that in my courses and my programs too.
All right, that's everything I have for you today on Mom Rage. I would love to hear from you if this episode resonated with you.
Or if Mom Rage is something that you deal with and you're like, yes, yes, this needs to be talked about more…I would love for you to share this episode, rate or review or subscribe or follow or do all those things so that more people can hear this message because I honestly feel like this needs to be out here so much more.
We need to be talking about this so much more because as soon as we can start to decrease the shame and normalize this more and have this be more of the expectation, the rage will already start to decrease. If we have somebody that's talking about it that we can be listening to and talking through it, it can be really helpful.
And if you are not at the point where you feel like you want to invest in coaching or in therapy or even in a course or in a program, I would highly suggest just to go to www.coachcrystal.ca/shop - and either get the downloadable PDF version or printed out version of Burn This Book, the Mindset Journal for Parents.
And that can really help dig into what's happening in my brain, what's happening in my body; we have lists of tools that you can use for self-regulation – zones are in there, there's a feelings wheel in there.
If you want to just get, start with the feelings wheel and just kind of get an idea of how this work is, you can go to coachcrystal.ca/wheel (W-H-E-E-L) and download that for free and get started.
And even just understanding your emotions in your body, naming them, knowing what you're feeling can be such a great step to decrease that Mom Rage.
Thanks for listening. If you'd like to help spread this work to the world, share this episode on social media and tag me – send it to a friend, or leave a quick rating and review below so more people can find me. If you'd like more guidance on your own parenting journey, reach out.