The mum rage is real… but what causes it and what can you do about it?
Let’s start with honesty. I am a fiery person. I am also a yoga instructor. Some people would think I am serene and calm all the time. Far from that.
Before I had my baby, I was balancing my passionate self and could channel it into something productive most of the time.
Postpartum hit me hard.
But postpartum hit me hard. A new form of anger, like a dragon waking up in my belly, ready to leash out and burn. And the one that gets burned is mostly the father of my child.
He slept well when I was awake every hour.
He showered for half an hour with nobody screaming outside.
He went out when I had to stay with the baby.
He yawned when we finally had some time for an evening wind-down.
In the end, his life went on almost undisturbed.
I’m not saying I am the only one to blame for every difficult moment we had. We, like all new parents were feeling the adjustment to a new lifestyle, the sleep deprivation (this one hits me harder as a I have the boobies); the very little alone time and the lack of personal space.
Back to that dragon though, I react to these situations with such an intensity that sometimes I don’t recognize myself. And it’s tiring.
Being this angry is very exhausting, emotionally and physically. Not to mention dealing with the consequences and the worry that my son will grow up with such a mum.
So, if you ever felt this way, I see you. You are not alone.
I started to look into this. As a former psychologist, the need to analyze and understand myself or others is often there.
My Mom Rage Usually Stems From Anxiety
I found that, for me, the dragon feeds on anxiety. Most of the time, I am anxious.
I feel anxious about this new life, instability, and the pandemic.
We went through intense changes this last year including financial problems, and depending on my boyfriend and his family for the first time in my life.
I also feel anxious about my body.
I have a history of body dysmorphia, and it is always a lot of work not to feel hatred about my body. The body who really deserves appreciation as it grew a human being, is really an awesome one. I’ve worked to constantly heal and get stronger since then.
I also feel anxious about the lack of personal space and time I get.
I love my son to bits, and I am in awe watching him grow, but an entire day with an almost walking one-year-old is tough. Constantly tending to someone’s needs with no have time for yours is tough.
And often when I have a little time without him, I do chores or work.
So, what helps me cope with the mom rage?
Tending to Basic needs
It is not a surprise if someone’s basic needs aren’t covered, they are less resilient against everything. I often find myself frustrated and I realise I am hungry, thirsty or I need to pee.
If you’ve been there, you know that point when you are rocking/nursing the baby to sleep with a full bladder. The choices are: let him wake up and start all over again, but you can pee, or keep it in and pray that he sleeps fast.
I try to keep my sugar levels up to avoid the hangry. It doesn’t have to be a full meal, a piece of fruit, crackers or chocolate to keep me going. I normally eat with my baby, but if I have a chance for a meal in peace, I grab it.
Before I was hung up on having every meal together, as it’s a social event, modelling, etc. However, if someone can help you or the baby is sleeping, go for it and enjoy every bite of that food.
I also try to stay hydrated with this hack: I have a glass next to the sink in the bathroom, and every time I go, drink a glass. This way I drink more, pee more, that results in even more drinking.
I find time for myself.
It is so easy to say but hard to do, especially if you have a baby with inconsistent daytime sleep, who never stops exploring when awake.
I am trying to find activities/rituals that charge me, even if it’s just a couple of minutes. In the morning, while the baby is playing on the floor before breakfast, I try to do my yoga.
If I’m super lucky, he falls asleep after his morning feed and I can sneak out for half an hour.
My other ritual I started recently, is to treat myself to some really nice organic face care products. I wash my face, tone and put serum on. It sounds little but makes a big difference.
I look for the source of my mom rage.
When I feel mom rage rising, I look out for what the cause could be. And sometimes, the feeling gets less intense if I know the reason, and it sometimes slowly fades away.
I find people to talk to and I ask for help.
This might be the hardest because when you’re in the middle of a heated fight it is difficult to ask for help. But, communicating your feelings to your partner is very important.
Another important element is to have a support system.
As an expat I don’t really have friends here and I feel pretty isolated sometimes. But, I do make an effort to stay in touch with old friends through a video chat or message.
Physical touch can often help with mom rage.
Hugs, holding hands with your partner, and snuggles with the baby can produce those feel-good hormones (oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin). These will help to reduce anxiety and all that comes with it.
Deep breathing can help, too.
This actually helps via activating the calming part of nervous system, especially if you are handling a crying baby. I often found myself on the verge of crying ‘why is he not sleeping’ while I was anxious and stressed. When I consciously changed my breathing to a deep belly yoga breathing, I became calmer, and that also helped the baby to relax too.
Sometimes you need to step away
If I reach that point when I can’t deal with a situation, I have to step away from the situation. I hand my baby to my boyfriend if he is there, if he is not, I place him in his bed with some toys, and go wash my face, drink some water and take a minute. It’s OK if the baby cries for a minute. I normally have the energy to keep going, to comfort him and get on with our day after taking a short break.
A change of scenery can help a lot as well, fresh air, a walk, a different room if the weather is bad.
In this ever-changing world of motherhood, we all need to support each other. And remember, that if you feel overwhelmed, there’s absolutely no shame to turn to a trained professional for help.