What You'll Learn
- What “Mommy Rage” Is (And Why It Happens)
- Why Isn’t Mommy Rage Talked About More
- Is Mommy Rage Scarring My Children For Life
- How Do We Repair Relationships Strained by Mommy Rage
- How to Choose Better Coping Skills for Managing Mommy Rage
- When Should You Seek Help For Mommy Rage
- A Resource to Manage Your Mommy Rage
Managing mommy rage can be tough. We expect motherhood to look nurturing, peaceful, and loving. So when we end up feeling rage or losing our cool, we start to wonder if there’s something wrong with us. Guilt, shame, and regret weigh on our shoulders. But without the right coping tools and skills, we end up falling right back into the mommy rage pattern.
Dr. Ashurina Ream of Psyched Mommy and I answer all your questions and discuss where the rage comes from, why we aren’t prepared for it, and how we can build the right skills for managing mommy rage before it happens (and when we inevitably slip up)!
Seeing Red—When Mommy Rage Takes Over
When I was about ten weeks postpartum with my third son, I had an eye-opening moment. I was having one of those mornings where nothing falls into place the right way. But I was desperately trying to get the kids packed up because I wanted to make it to the gym.
The gym was the one thing, the one sense of normalcy, of “me time,” that I was clinging onto. Sometimes it seemed like that was the only thing keeping me sane.
This particular morning, I was running around like crazy packing up my three boys and getting them loaded into the car, and when I pressed the button to close the van door. It jammed—the pulley system had completely busted.
I had a moment of panic, but I knew that if I could just get the door closed I could still make it to the gym in time. Over the hustle and bustle of the kids, I maneuvered the door closed, knowing I could deal with the problem later. I finally got it closed and rushed onto the gym.
Then, while I was driving, I saw blue and red lights in my mirror. I was being pulled over for speeding.
I saw red. I had never been so angry in my life. All I wanted to do was have control over one thing, and I saw it slipping right away from me. It felt like lava boiling over—and I didn’t even recognize myself.
Looking back later, I realized I had fallen into something that most moms experience—mommy rage. That uncontrollable anger, the bubbling resentment, and the realization that I wasn’t coping the way that I should—I had to learn new skills for managing mommy rage.
What “Mommy Rage” Is (And Why It Happens)
Sometimes when I discuss anger in motherhood I hear people say, “Well, everybody feels rage. Why do we have to call it ‘mommy rage’?”
Yes, everyone experiences rage. But as Dr. Ream and I discussed, moms in particular, are at high risk for developing feelings of rage. Why? There are several vulnerability factors.
Before you become a mom, you’re able to take care of your own needs. Girls night out. Me time. Working out. Eating well. Sleeping all night. Then, in an instant, all of that goes away. Suddenly, you have a dependent being counting on you, and your needs go straight to the backburner.
You have a dependent being counting on you, and your needs go straight to the backburner.
When you combine that lack of needs being met with other factors—being a perfectionist, needing to be in control of situations, sleep deprivation, or postpartum depression—you have a perfect storm for rage to fester.
Dr. Ream pointed out that for many moms, mommy rage stems from losing control. We try to cling to a routine (just like I was clinging to the gym to help me manage PPD) and when things don’t happen the way we need them to or expect them to, it feels like the end of the world.
That gap between what we expect motherhood to be like and the reality is one of the biggest reasons we experience mommy rage.
Why Isn’t Mommy Rage Talked About More?
When moms experience mom rage, it comes out in a variety of ways—yelling, snapping, scolding. It can even come out in physical ways—breaking or throwing things.
Nobody imagines motherhood to be full of those negative feelings and moments of rage. So, when we do experience it, we often feel shameful. It’s not something that we’re proud of. (We’re certainly not sharing it on social media or in mom groups!)
Dr. Ream tapped into this idea, saying that we think to ourselves, “If I talk about this, what will other people think about me? What will I think about me?”
Anger in motherhood is accompanied by negative emotions—guilt, shame, worry about scarring our children. We don’t want to talk about it. But if we just bottle it up and try to push it down, or if we don’t admit that we need help and seek it, it will very likely keep happening.
Is Mommy Rage Scarring My Children For Life?
When we lash out, yell, or snap at our children due to our own rage, we often worry about scarring them.
We want to preserve a good relationship with our children, and we get scared that we are driving them away, breaking them down, or leaving them scarred for life.
No one interaction with our children makes or breaks attachment with them.
The truth that we need to remember is that no one interaction with our children makes or breaks attachment with them. If we lose our cool or snap, repair is possible.
But, over time, if we don’t commit to changing, to controlling our anger, to managing our mommy rage, and doing better, then it can have a negative impact on the important relationships in our lives.
How Do We Repair Relationships Strained by Mommy Rage?
So, how do we do that? How do we stitch those relationships back up? How do we move forward and do better? How do we make sure we don’t drive our children away?
By managing our mommy rage in two ways. First, we have to learn how to address what happened and repair the situation. That means offering genuine apologies to our children, owning what we did wrong, and committing to do better.
The best way to repair those relationships is by preventing the situation in the first place.
But the best way to repair those relationships is by preventing the situation in the first place. And that means developing healthy coping skills.
(For a more in-depth look at how to repair in moments when you’ve lost your cool and find yourself in the shame spiral, learn our 3-step repair method!)
How to Choose Better Coping Skills for Managing Mommy Rage
When we experience mommy rage and we’re not sure how to handle it, we have a tendency to develop coping skills that aren’t productive. We might turn to “mommy wine culture,” or perhaps we check out and withdraw from our children.
Those things might help us curb our rage in the moment. But they often come with their own problems.
If you have found yourself coping in ways that aren’t productive, you shouldn’t be ashamed, though. You’re in survival mode, doing whatever you can to battle the rage.
But what if you could build healthier, better skills, that could help you adapt in a productive way? What if you could fill your toolbox with tools that let you prepare and prevent rage?
What if you could fill your toolbox with tools that let you prepare and prevent rage?
That’s what Dr. Ream and I have created with All the Rage, our course on managing mommy rage. We’ve filled it with valuable resources on how to recognize your triggers, prepare before mommy rage happens, and repair the fallout from rage when you slip up. It helps you create and develop coping skills before you find yourself bubbling over with rage.
When Should You Seek Help For Mommy Rage?
If your rage ever escalates to physical lashing out—violence, throwing things, breaking things, you should seek help right away. (While the movies might have us believe that punching a pillow or breaking a glass is a healthy way to express anger, it’s still not helping you manage the actual problem!)
But you don’t have to wait until your rage puts you in a crisis to seek help. Dr. Ream urges anyone who feels uncomfortable with the way they’re handling their rage to get help. If it’s impacting your life, you can benefit from building better coping mechanisms.
It’s never too early to seek help. (Our Happy as a Mother Wellness Center is set up to help–book a free teletherapy consult to help!)
A Resource to Manage Anger in Motherhood
Our new course, All the Rage, is designed to help you master the skills you need to manage, prevent, handle, and stitch up the damage from your mommy rage.
We took our combined experiences as therapists and put together everything you need to prepare, cope, and do better.
We walk you through the vulnerability factors contributing to mommy rage, the tools you can use to prevent it, and the skills you need to work through it in a healthy, productive way, even in the most triggering moments. If you’re ready to seek help and you’re not sure where to start, don’t wait. You can learn these skills today!
Mommy rage is a sign from your body and mind that your needs aren’t being met.
Remember that mommy rage is nothing to feel ashamed of. It’s normal. In fact, it’s a sign from your body and mind that your needs aren’t being met. It’s a sign that you need support.
Think of mommy rage less as something to hide and more as a check engine light that needs to be addressed!
Ready to manage your mommy rage? Join us for All the Rage!