I was in a bad spot the other night. I was angry at my children’s behaviors—again. I was yelling—again. I was losing it—again.
Guilt flooded in and tears threatened. My children don’t have a positive role model when it comes to dealing with anger and frustration. My husband is better than I am at staying calm. However, his job requires him to be gone a lot, allowing him a break, and leaving me to deal with the children.
My anger has increased since becoming a stay-at-home mom. I wasn’t perfect when I was working out of the home but I was better at handling the anger. Being a stay-at-home mom was a choice made when we moved in order to give my husband the flexibility he needed for his job. It was never a dream of mine to stay home with kids. I’m very task oriented, so having a job with defined roles, expectations, and payment for my efforts fit me perfectly. Being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t come with any of that.
I went through a huge depression right after we moved. I was angry at everything—the town, my house, my husband, and my kids. And the kids got 95 percent of that anger.
I found a volunteer position that allowed me to bring my non-school toddler and my mood improved drastically. Adult conversations, goals, expectations, a purpose.
However, I found my task-oriented mind and my children’s need for attention continued to clash. My house is never even remotely clean. I want friends to come over and chat, but I fear being judged. I’m involved in our school and church, but I also stress myself out when I don’t say “no” because I want to please others.
My anger was on the rise again. I didn’t know what to do so I repeated the cycle of frustration, yelling, and guilt.
Then I reached out to a community of women online. I admitted my anger. I admitted my yelling. I admitted my fears, guilt, and shame.
Then I waited for their judgment.
What I received was something every struggling parent needs to hear: “We’ve been there. We are there. We want to help you help yourself. You are amazing.”
I cried a lot reading their posts. Several reached out over Messenger to be more personal. They answered my questions, gave ideas, and offered moral support and understanding.
They didn’t judge me; they understood me. They were walking in my shoes, or they had experienced that journey in their past. They knew the treacherous road of anger—the mud, the bogs, the hurdles, the helplessness, the darkness.
After the interaction, I went to bed early. In the middle of the night, as I was awake with a sick baby, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I read. I thought about other parents who think they are alone in their feelings of anger, guilt, frustration, and loneliness. There are parents who are ashamed to reach out for help because they feel weak or judged.
And I felt called to reach out to those people. To YOU. You are not alone. We hear you. We see you. We know that struggle.
Those women gave coping ideas. I know ways to combat anger but being in the midst of it, I couldn’t see the options. Those women gave me ideas and encouragement.
I want to offer those words of hope to you. Sometimes, when life is at its darkest and we can’t seem to find a light, we NEED others to lift us up. Some of these ideas will not work for your situation, just as they don’t all work for mine. Others will seem so simple, yet the momentum from a single change can set you on a positive path. (Names of my “angels” aren’t included due to the confidentiality of the group; all ideas are used with permission).
- Breath. Take deep breaths, slowly in through the mouth, pushing slowly out through the nose. Focus on that breath, not the anger.
- Rest. If you can’t sleep through the night because of your “littles,” take a power nap or just sit for 15 minutes.
- Exercise. It reduces stress and builds up the stuff in our bodies that makes us feel good.
- Journal. Get those thoughts OUT of your head. Sometimes things are bothering you that you didn’t even know were bothering you until you have it written down. Also, this is the first step in problem-solving: identifying the problem areas.
- Spirituality. Praying and giving yourself to God? Belief in another higher power? Meditating?
- Let go of expectations. Do you expect things of your kids they aren’t capable of doing, or don’t understand? What about your spouse? What about the expectations you hold against yourself?
- Apologize. Take responsibility for your anger and corresponding behaviors.
- Name that tune. Anger is often a secondary response. What’s underlying? Anxiety? Depression?
- Let go of assumptions. Others aren’t judging you 24/7. Let go of the assumption they are.
- Pressure. What are you “taking on” as a parent between kids, spouse, work, home, and activities. Lessen some of your commitments.
- Medication. Talk to a doctor/psychiatrist to see if meds might be an option. P.S., this goes hand-in-hand with therapy for best results.
- Therapy. Find someone with whom you can disclose your struggles.
- Other parents. Make connections and trade babysitting times to allow each of you some alone time to do whatever you want.
- Self-Care. You must care for yourself in order to care for them. Think “oxygen mask theory” on airplanes.
- It only takes one. One victory battle over anger will prove you have the power to conquer the war. There will be mistakes and failures but you can learn and try again.