It’s Anxiety Week - Save 20% on our Managing Postpartum Anxiety course with code anxiety20.
LEARN MORE
It’s Anxiety Week - Save 20% on our Managing Postpartum Anxiety course with code anxiety20.
LEARN MORE

February 20, 2024

January 24, 2024

You’re Not an Angry Mom: Why We Experience Mom Rage (and What We Can Learn From It)

E:
209
with
Minna Dubin
Author of Mom Rage: The Everyday Crisis of Modern Motherhood

What You'll Learn

  • How Social Messaging Contributes to Anger for Moms
  • How Expectations of Motherhood Lead to Mom Anger
  • The Societal Factor of Maternal Anger vs. Individual Mom Rage
  • The Problem with the “Angry Mom” Concept
  • The Importance of Curiosity About Our Mom Rage
  • How to Reframe Your Relationship With Your Mom Anger

None of us set out to become angry moms. We likely envisioned responding with warmth, patience, nurturing, and understanding. 

But the reality is often a far cry from that vision. Sleep deprivation, gender norms we didn’t even know we were carrying, an invisible load we weren’t prepared for, and an unrelenting pressure to be and do more often leave us feeling overwhelmed, helpless, and even hopeless. 

The more we push those feelings down, the more they bubble beneath the surface, often erupting as Mom Rage

Maternal anger leaves us feeling ashamed and guilty. We often believe that there is something wrong with us—that our rage moments are flaws or indicators that we aren’t good enough moms. 

But the truth is that Mom Rage is a symptom. Sometimes it’s a symptom of mental health struggles, such as PPD, PPA, or burnout. Sometimes it’s a symptom of sleep deprivation and unmet needs. And sometimes it’s a symptom of mothering in a society that doesn’t value or support us. 

The more we shame ourselves or view ourselves as “angry moms,” the harder it is to learn the skills and tools to address the cause of our Mom Rage. But if we can break away from the judgment and shame, and look deeper to see what’s beneath the surface, we can pave the way for real change. 

This week Minna Dubin, author of Mom Rage: The Everyday Crisis of Modern Motherhood, returns to The Momwell Podcast to unpack why we experience anger as moms, and how we can reframe our understanding of it and use it to meet our needs. 

How Social Messaging Contributes to Anger for Moms

When Minna found herself experiencing Mom Rage, she dealt with the same disconnect and shame that so many moms face. Nobody was openly discussing maternal anger. But Minna knew she wasn’t the only one going through this. 

When an article she wrote about maternal rage went viral, she saw how important it was to talk about it. Now, she has published a book not only normalizing Mom Rage, but reminding us that we aren’t “angry moms.” We’re moms who are facing impossible standards and pressure from society. 

One of the concepts Minna discusses in her book is “Motherhood’s PR team.” Motherhood as a construct comes with a lot of messaging that we learn from an early age—and not all of that messaging is productive or healthy. 

These messages tell us that motherhood is a beautiful experience full of love, and that it should fulfill us entirely. 

Minna says that one of the biggest social messages is the idea that motherhood is the best job a woman can have. This message often leaves moms feeling as if they are neglecting their “real work” as moms if they continue their career outside of the home. It also tells moms that their only value is in their motherhood role. 

These messages lay the foundation for moms to be overwhelmed, pushing themselves to the point of burnout. We feel as if we must constantly be and do more, without experiencing negative emotions or taking care of our own needs in the process. 

We often end up carrying the bulk of the household labor, even if we are also working full-time jobs or outearning our partners, and feeling pressured to work as if we don’t have children and mother as if we don’t work. 

Between juggling the mental load, the caregiving role, and often working outside the home as well, it’s no wonder moms feel overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the expectations.

We’re trying to meet impossible standards, carry an invisible load, and “balance” it all without support.

Minna believes that this is what lays the foundation for anger in moms. We’re trying to meet impossible standards, carry an invisible load we never asked for, and “balance” it all without support. But because of that social messaging, we feel as if we can’t complain, ask for help, or even show that we’re struggling. 

How Expectations of Motherhood Lead to Mom Anger

Minna pointed out that women are often pressured into motherhood by being fed a version of it that doesn’t exist—without all the downs, the struggles, and the hard parts. So when we become moms and experience a very different reality, it’s jarring. 

It’s often the gap between expectations and reality that creates distress for moms. We’re sold an image of “mother’s intuition,” instant bonding, and a role that we were meant for. But the truth is often much more complicated, with a lot of learning and struggle along the way. 

And when we’re left to figure it out on our own, or met with toxic positivity when we voice any concerns, it can come with feelings of being invisible, isolated, and unvalued. 

Minna relates this experience to feeling like a freefall. We see images in the media of moms who seem to bounce back with no struggle and appear to enjoy every moment of motherhood. Nobody is posting the hard parts, the struggles, and the range of emotions that come with it. 

She said it becomes a gaslighting experience. We can feel as if our experience is wrong, or as if something must be wrong with us. 

We tell ourselves we need to do better instead of questioning why our society isn’t set up to support moms. 

We often feel as if we just need to push ourselves more, ignore our struggles or emotions, or shame ourselves out of our experience. We tell ourselves we need to do better instead of questioning why our society isn’t set up to support moms. 

But we end up experiencing more isolation and overwhelm, creating the perfect recipe for maternal anger. 

The Societal Factor of Maternal Anger vs. Individual Mom Rage

Defining the causes behind Mom Rage can be tricky. There are so many factors at play, some on an individual level and some on a societal one. 

Mom Rage is frustration at not being supported, resentment at the invisible load that often falls to moms, and an overall feeling of injustice and unachievable pressure of perfection. 

But Mom Rage is also irritability, frustration, and anger in our day-to-day parenthood, often resulting in outbursts of frustration at our child or our partner. 

It’s fueled by physical factors, such as hormonal shifts, sleep deprivation, or unmet physical needs. It’s fueled by emotional factors, such as relationship conflict, childhood wounds and generational cycles surfacing, or a lack of time for ourselves and our passions. And, it’s also fueled by a society that pushes us to do more, keep up appearances, and handle it all without batting an eye. 

It’s important to understand that the societal component is valid. It’s real—and our anger is justified. 

But at the same time, we can’t change workplace policies, accessible childcare, or some of those larger-scale factors overnight.  

We can, however, learn how to build a toolbox of skills and strategies to recognize our day-to-day anger, advocate for and meet our needs, and create a plan for managing rage in and out of the moment. 

Minna pointed out that the conversation about Mom Rage needs to include both sides—the societal and the individual. We might be living with societal structures and patriarchal setups around motherhood that should change—but we still have to live in the day-to-day. We can still understand how to meet our needs and express our anger more constructively. 

The Problem with the “Angry Mom” Concept

It’s easy to fall into shame when we experience anger as moms. But that shame often keeps us from gaining the tools we need to manage our anger and express it healthily. 

When Dr. Wendy Davis, director of Postpartum Support International, appeared on the podcast, she pointed out that moms who had not often experienced anger before motherhood often felt ill-equipped to handle it. They are often blindsided by their anger—and they never gained the skills and tools needed to manage it. 

The ups and downs of our emotions in motherhood can feel difficult to manage, especially without those tools in place. We’re often experiencing triggering behavior, dealing with unresolved childhood wounds, and trying to learn how to manage not just our emotions but also our children’s—especially when we are mothering neurodivergent children. 

It’s a lot of mental and emotional labor—and when our plates are already full with the invisible load, it can feel impossible. 

Minna pointed out that when we’re carrying all of that labor and depletion and distress and it surfaces as Mom Rage, we’re just deemed “angry moms,” largely due to that motherhood PR team and intensive mothering ideology that leaves us feeling as if we’re bad moms if we experience emotions. That’s why the conversation about anger in moms needs to encompass a holistic view. 

Social messaging tells us that a woman’s anger is always corrosive.

Minna believes that breaking away from this “angry mom” image and reframing the picture is important. She pointed out that social messaging tells us that a woman’s anger is always corrosive. 

But that doesn’t leave room for humanity or nuance. Anger can be expressed in destructive, unhealthy ways. But it is also a valid emotion, and a sign that some need is not being met. And Minna says that when we stop the shame, we can use anger as a catalyst for change. 

The Importance of Curiosity About Our Mom Rage

Minna believes that our anger has power and wisdom. It’s like a weather vane pointing to where we need attention or healing. We might not be able to change the societal factors—but it’s okay to sit in our anger for a moment and understand that it is justified and valid. And then, instead of blaming ourselves, we can become curious about our anger. 

None of us want to experience anger in motherhood, but breaking away from the shame matters. 

Minna pointed out that using anger for change is great—but that it also shouldn’t turn into another job or more mental load for moms.

The real work around Mom Rage is becoming a person with needs. 

That’s why she advocates for curiosity rather than “fixing anger.” Rage is never going to go away. Our emotions aren’t just going to stop. And Minna believes we shouldn’t think about our anger as something that needs to be “fixed.” 

But if we instead focus on curiosity, we can move into solutions in a productive way. We can determine what needs aren’t being met, where we need support, and how we can make changes that will help us get that support. 

It’s not about a quick fix or a script or a to-do list—it’s about diving in and recognizing what our anger is trying to tell us. 

Minna pointed out moms are socially conditioned to be people with no needs—and that the real work around Mom Rage is becoming a person with needs, recognizing those needs, and understanding that being a “good mom” doesn’t mean putting everyone else’s needs first. 

How to Reframe Your Relationship With Your Mom Anger

Breaking away from those patterns of ignoring or sacrificing our own needs isn’t always easy. It can take a lot of inner work and self-awareness. 

But Minna believes that there are two important approaches to start with first. She calls them “inviting your rage to tea” and “rescuing your partner from enemy territory.” 

The first piece (inviting your rage to tea) is building that curiosity and reframing the way you view your own anger. You’re not an angry mom—you’re a mom with needs whose body is trying to tell you that something needs to change. 

Minna says that we can view our anger as a friend, asking it why it’s happening, where it’s coming from, and what we need that we aren’t getting.  When you can determine your underlying triggers and understand what’s happening when you feel angry, it becomes easier to recognize and advocate for your needs. 

Visualizing this conversation as tea with a friend, or journaling if that’s productive for you, can help you get to the root of your anger and stop viewing it as an inherently bad thing.

The second piece (rescuing our partner from enemy territory) involves recognizing your physical indicators of anger. We all have physical signs that we are starting to get angry (for example, moving our hands or talking louder or at a different pitch or speed).

It’s important to have safe spaces where we can discuss maternal anger without fear of judgment. 

Nobody wants to be told by their partner that they need to calm down or are starting to get angry. But we can remove the enemy aspect and put our partner on our team to help us recognize our indicators. 

Minna recommends working with your partner to identify those early indicators and establishing a code word that serves as a reminder to check in with yourself, your emotions, and your body.  

Finally, Minna recommends finding people you can be vulnerable with and open up about your struggles, your anger, and your experiences, whether it’s your partner, a friend, or a mental health provider who is trained in the nuance of motherhood. 

It’s important to have safe spaces where we can discuss maternal anger without fear of judgment. 

If you’re in need of a judgment-free space, our mom therapists understand the nuances of anger in motherhood and are here to help! Book a FREE 15 minute virtual consult today!

NEWSLETTER

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Tags:

Maternal anger

Stage:

Postpartum, Motherhood

Share Now:

OUR GUEST

Minna Dubin
Author of Mom Rage: The Everyday Crisis of Modern Motherhood

Minna Dubin is the author of MOM RAGE: The Everyday Crisis of Modern Motherhood. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times, Oprah Daily, The Times Sunday Magazine, Salon, Lit Hub, Parents, and Romper. As a leading feminist voice on mom rage, Minna has appeared on MSNBC, Good Morning America, The Tamron Hall Show, the BBC and NPR. Minna lives in Berkeley, CA with her husband, two kids, and no pets because enough is enough.

Erica Djossa
Erica Djossa
PMH-C | Founder of Momwell
Erica is the founder of Momwell, providing educational resources and virtual therapy for moms. She is a mom of three boys and a registered psychotherapist. Erica’s work has been featured in the Toronto Star, Breakfast Television, Scary Mommy, Medium, Pop Sugar, and Romper. how they want it.
RELATED ARTICLES
February 20, 2024
February 14, 2024
Rekindling Your Sex Life After Baby: Communication Is Key
E:
212
with
Vanessa & Xander Marin
bestselling authors & hosts of the podcast Pillow Talks
February 20, 2024
January 31, 2024
Postpartum Rage vs. Parental Anger: How Social Expectations Create Overwhelmed Moms
E:
210
with
Dr. Ashurina Ream
Founder and CEO of Psyched Mommy, licensed clinical psychologist
February 20, 2024
January 24, 2024
You’re Not an Angry Mom: Why We Experience Mom Rage (and What We Can Learn From It)
E:
209
with
Minna Dubin
Author of Mom Rage: The Everyday Crisis of Modern Motherhood
February 20, 2024
January 17, 2024
What Causes Mommy Brain? The Role of the Invisible Load on Forgetfulness and Brain Fog
E:
208
with
Dr. Jodi Pawluski
neuroscientist, psychotherapist and author
February 20, 2024
January 3, 2024
How Parents Can Avoid Information Overload: Maintaining Confidence in Our Decision-Making
E:
206
with
Cara Goodwin
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
December 6, 2023
Navigating Different Sex Drives in Parenthood: What Impacts Libido and How to Reconnect
E:
202
with
Dr. Lauren Fogel Mersy & Dr. Jennifer Vencill
Licensed Psychologists and Authors
February 20, 2024
November 29, 2023
Prioritizing the Invisible Load of Motherhood: Valuing Our Own Time and Letting Go of Mental Labor
E:
201
with
Whitney Casares
Founder and CEO of Modern Mommy Doc
February 20, 2024
November 22, 2023
Erica’s Husband Reflects on Sharing the Invisible Load
E:
200
with
Frenel Djossa
Erica’s Husband & Co-Founder of Momwell
February 20, 2024
November 15, 2023
Breaking Generational Trauma Cycles: Healing Our Past and Moving Forward in Motherhood
E:
199
with
Dr. Mariel Buqué
Psychologist and the author of the book Break the Cycle: A Guide to Healing Intergenerational Trauma
February 20, 2024
November 8, 2023
Is There Such a Thing as Healthy Perfectionism? Reframing the Concept of “Perfect” in Motherhood
E:
198
with
Katherine Morgan Schafler
Psychotherapist and author
February 20, 2024
November 1, 2023
Breaking Out of the Default Parent Role: How to Communicate with Your Partner and Change Patterns
E:
197
with
Erin & Stephen Mitchell
Founders of Couples Counseling for Parents
February 20, 2024
October 18, 2023
Rebuilding Connection and Intimacy After Baby: How Family Systems Can Help Us Navigate Relationship Challenges
E:
195
with
Aaron Steinberg
Co-Founder of Babyproofing Your Relationship
February 20, 2024
October 11, 2023
Embracing the 7 Types of Rest: Why Moms Are Exhausted and What Actually Helps
E:
194
with
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith
Board-Certified internal medicine physician and award-winning author
February 20, 2024
October 4, 2023
Interpreting Newborn Hunger Cues and Sleepy Signs: How to Learn Your Baby’s Needs
E:
193
with
Sharon Mazel
Author of Bite-Sized Parenting: Your Baby’s First Year
February 20, 2024
September 27, 2023
Understanding Overfunctioning in Relationships: How to Change Dynamics After Baby
E:
192
with
Dr. Tracy Dalgleish
Clinical Psychologist and Relationship Expert
February 20, 2024
September 20, 2023
Managing Mom Anxiety: Why Millennial Moms Are So Anxious and How to Overcome Our Fears
E:
191
with
Dr. Lauren Cook
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
September 13, 2023
Embracing Power as Moms: Reshaping Dynamics In and Out of the Home
E:
190
with
Claire Shipman
NYT Bestselling Author
February 20, 2024
September 6, 2023
How to Raise Confident Kids: Breaking Cycles of Negative Self-Esteem
E:
189
with
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe
Founder of The North Star Developmental Clinic
February 20, 2024
August 23, 2023
Understanding Sensory Self-Care: How Overstimulated Moms Can Regulate and Regain Calm
E:
187
with
Holly Peretz
Pediatric Occupational Therapist
February 20, 2024
August 16, 2023
Navigating Matrescence: The Roller Coaster of Becoming a Mom
E:
186
with
Dr. Catherine Birndorf
Co-Founder and Medical Director of The Motherhood Center of New York
February 20, 2024
July 26, 2023
The Journey of a Bereaved Parent: Stefania Thomson’s Story of Navigating Grief and Loss
E:
183
with
Stefania Thomson
Bereavement and Grief Advocate
February 20, 2024
June 21, 2023
Myths About Toddler Behavior: How to Reclaim the "Terrible Twos"
E:
178
with
Dr. Cathryn Tobin
Pediatrician
February 20, 2024
June 14, 2023
The Invisible Load of Fatherhood: How Dads Can Challenge Gender Norms and Become More Involved
E:
177
with
Dr. Singley
Psychologist and Director of The Center for Men’s Excellence
February 20, 2024
March 29, 2023
Birth Trauma Part 2: Facing Pregnancy After a Traumatic Birth
E:
166
with
Kayleigh Summers
Clinical Social Worker
February 20, 2024
March 22, 2023
Birth Trauma Part 1: How Birth Trauma Impacts Our Family Decision Making
E:
165
with
Kayleigh Summers
Clinical Social Worker
February 20, 2024
March 15, 2023
Real Self-Care for Moms: Why Mindset Matters More Than Massages
E:
164
with
Dr. Pooja Lakshmin
Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
February 22, 2023
Navigating Working Mom Struggles: How to Let Go of Norms, Expectations, and Guilt
E:
161
with
Mary Beth Somich
Mental Health Counselor
February 20, 2024
February 8, 2023
Overcoming Mom Guilt: Rewriting the Motherhood Contract and Charting Your Own Path
E:
159
with
Libby Ward
Founder of Diary of an Honest Mom
February 20, 2024
December 28, 2022
Coping During Postpartum with No Family Support: When Reality Clashes with Expectations
E:
153
with
Emmalee Bierly and Jennifer Chaiken
Founders of ShrinkChicks
February 20, 2024
December 14, 2022
Navigating Career and Motherhood: Approaching Maternity Leave with Confidence
E:
151
with
Allison Venditti
Founder of Moms at Work
February 20, 2024
November 23, 2022
The Mental Load of Motherhood: How to Address the Imbalance of Household Labour
E:
148
with
Gemma Hartley
Journalist and Author
February 20, 2024
November 16, 2022
Surviving the Baby Witching Hour: How to Cope With Colicky and Fussy Babies
E:
147
with
Dr. Whitney Casares
Pediatrician
February 20, 2024
November 2, 2022
How To Deal With Toxic Positivity As a Mom: What To Do When Someone Invalidates Your Feelings
E:
145
with
Whitney Goodman
Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
October 19, 2022
Returning to Work After Maternity Leave: Navigating the Emotions, Difficulties, and Challenges
E:
143
with
Dr. Cassidy Freitas
Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
October 12, 2022
How to Know if You Have Postpartum Anxiety: Red Flags to Watch for in Pregnancy, Birth, and After Baby
E:
142
with
Dr. Sarah Oreck
Reproductive Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
October 5, 2022
Protecting Maternal Sleep: The Relationship Between Sleep Deprivation and Postpartum Depression
E:
141
with
Dr. Nicole Leistikow
Reproductive Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist
February 20, 2024
September 21, 2022
Encouraging Independent Play: Why Unstructured Play Matters and How to Foster It
E:
139
with
Susie Allison
Founder of Busy Toddler
February 20, 2024
September 14, 2022
Dividing Labour Fairly in the Home: Redistributing the Mental Load of Motherhood
E:
138
with
Dr. Darcy Lockman
Author and Psychologist
February 20, 2024
August 31, 2022
Why Does a Messy House Give Me Anxiety? How to Stress Less About Cleaning and Keep Your House Functioning
E:
136
with
KC Davis
@domesticblisters on TikTok and Founder of Struggle Care
February 20, 2024
August 3, 2022
Overcoming Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: Why Support Matters and How to Find Resources to Help
E:
132
with
Dr. Wendy Davis
Executive Director of PSI
February 20, 2024
July 27, 2022
Overcoming Working Mom Guilt: Why Moms Should Never Be Ashamed to Be Ambitious
E:
131
with
Lara Bazelon
Law Professor and Author
February 20, 2024
February 16, 2022
What is Matrescence? The Transition into Motherhood (And Why Being a New Mom is Hard)
E:
108
with
Dr. Katayune Kaeni
Perinatal Psychologist
February 20, 2024
February 9, 2022
How to Prepare Your Dog for a New Baby: Planning, Introducing, and Keeping Everyone Safe
E:
107
with
Dominika Knossalla
Certified Dog Trainer
February 20, 2024
February 2, 2022
Discover Your Personal Core Values
E:
106
with
Dr. Cassidy Freitas
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
January 26, 2022
When Mommy Rage Strikes: How to Prevent and Control the Anger
E:
105
with
Dr. Ashurina Ream
Founder of Psyched Mommy
February 20, 2024
January 5, 2022
Sleep Training Doesn't Have To Be Scary
E:
102
with
Dr. Aubrie DeBear
Founder of Baby Sleep Dr.
February 20, 2024
January 19, 2022
Carrying the Mental Load: How to Redistribute the Burden and Give Moms More Freedom
E:
104
with
Eve Rodsky
New York Times Bestselling Author
February 20, 2024
January 12, 2022
Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression: How to Spot the Signs So You Can Seek Support
E:
103
with
Dr. Kristina Deligiannidis
Reproductive Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
December 29, 2021
Decluttering: The Secret of an Easy to Tidy Home
E:
101
with
Katy Wells
Declutter Expert
February 20, 2024
December 22, 2021
100th Episode: Erica’s Husband Tells All
E:
100
with
Frenel Djossa
February 20, 2024
December 15, 2021
The Pressure to Get It Right
E:
99
with
Dr. Jen Douglas
Psychologist
February 20, 2024
December 8, 2021
Learning to Fight Fair
E:
98
with
Elizabeth Earnshaw
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
December 1, 2021
The One and Done Family
E:
97
with
Renee Reina, Ph.D.
Founder of The Mom Room
February 20, 2024
November 24, 2021
Overcoming Gender Disappointment
E:
96
with
Dr. Renée Miller
Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
November 17, 2021
Adding a Sibling to Your Family
E:
95
with
Bryana Kappadakunnel
Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
November 10, 2021
Regulating Your Nervous System
E:
94
with
Dr. Quincee Gideon
Psychologist
February 20, 2024
October 20, 2021
Social Justice Parenting
E:
91
with
Dr. Traci Baxley
Author
February 20, 2024
October 13, 2021
Momming With ADHD
E:
90
with
Dr. Melissa Shepard
Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist
February 20, 2024
October 6, 2021
Supporting NICU Moms
E:
89
with
Kristin Reinhart
Registered Social Worker
February 20, 2024
September 22, 2021
Working As A Mother
E:
87
with
Dr. Courtney Tracy
Founder of The Truth Doctor
February 20, 2024
September 8, 2021
Caring for the Postpartum Brain
E:
85
with
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor
Neuroanatomist