I’ve never considered myself an angry person until recently. I am incredibly even keeled and in my professional life previous to having children I prided myself in the work I did with at risk youth at keeping my temper and knew I would excel in remaining a calm mentor and teacher to my future children. I did not start getting angry – like hot faced rage fire in your chest angry – until I had two children. By that point my eldest became old enough to have an opinion and my youngest, well simply existed. They are currently two and four. My anger is not reserved only for my children, but the actual rage which I have no experience with (aside from moments as a teen) also is directed at my husband. This has got to be one of the hardest emotions I have ever dealt with and is taking all of my energy to muster self-control and patience. So where did this anger come from? My family does not do anything unexpected of their ages or personalities to warrant it.
I’ve discovered the three main roots of my anger and maybe you can relate. All situations where I feel that horrible gut wrenching hot rage stem from unmet unrealistic expectations, comparisons, and forgetting to take time to take care of myself.
- Unmet Unrealistic Expectations.
I have never felt so angry about my house being dirty. How could I yell at my two year old daughter for touching the sliding glass door as I am currently wiping finger prints off? Because I have the unrealistic expectation that my sliding glass door will be print free and she is getting in the way of that. Why on earth do I have that unrealistic expectation; because I am desperately trying to figure out how to excel in my new role as a stay at home mom and wife? What does that look like? It must look like clean doors and my toddler is the reason I am failing. Anger toward my husband also happens as a result of unrealistic expectations. Each article of clothing left on the floor, each dish not making it to the sink can add up to an explosive response at an innocent question by him. Why must I hold my husband to unrealistic standards in his own home? It is because I am tired and I am most likely not taking care of myself.
Our world is full of messages about who we need to be as mothers. We see mothers who seem to have a perfect life, have their kids very well behaved a perfectly clean home and who know how to entertain like the best. Of course I only compare myself to other women who have talents where I am lacking. I don’t think about how they are in areas I excel at or enjoy but only see a spotless home or gorgeous decorations and think about how I need to step it up and get better at those things. The drive I have is a good trait, but it heads down the dangerous path toward the anger I referred to. I see a spotless home and I am determined to make mine just as clean if not better and if I can’t well that means something really scary. That means I am inadequate. That I am unworthy and terrified someone will find out. So when I am attempting to live up to the standard of comparison and someone like a four year old boy wants to put all his cars in the hall way and I want to mop I am going to feel that rage because I cannot do what needs to be done to feel like enough.
- Not taking the time to take care of myself.
Comparison and unrealistic expectations can become at the forefront of my mind when I don’t take the time for some self-care. Yes I did a wonderful job at patience and self-control when working with the youth in the past, but that was because at the end of the day I left. I could go home and have a break until the next day. Being a mom there is no leaving or breaks unless I intentionally create them before I get to the point of losing it; the rage taking over and the yelling and the urges to throw something or kick a hole in the wall. I kicked the hallway wall so hard one day in a fit of frustration when both kids were crying and whining and the house was a mess and I had just spent an hour on the phone with the cable company. I remember they both looked at me surprised and I did not feel any better. In fact my foot just really hurt. I needed a break. There is only so much giving a person can do and only so much patience a person can have before they reach the breaking point. I reached that point more than once. I intentionally need to take time at least once a week to be alone. To do something I love. And each day I need to intentionally take some deep breaths. Sometimes I take the trash out and stand in the front yard for a few minutes alone to take in the peace and fresh air.
Anger is a very real emotion and it often stems from some scary vulnerable places. These three places are where my anger comes from. If I know anger’s source I can attack it. I can grow in my maturity and ability to practice self-control if I practice self-awareness daily.
About the Author
Dana Posthumus lives San Diego with her husband and two kids. She often wonders how she managed to have kids under two years apart who are both equally adventurous and strong willed. She previously worked with inner city youth to help combat substance abuse and gang involvement and utilizes many of her professional skills at home. You can find her at www.intothebunnyhole.blogspot.