What to do when you turn into Angry Mom… again
We leave labor and delivery, and I climb into the backseat with our brand-new baby and tell Ryan, “She’s the best thing we’ve ever done.” And it’s true.
Fast-forward almost a decade: This time I’m in the driver’s seat while she’s in the third row arguing with her sister. Then someone spills a water bottle because they can’t find the cap. I get blamed for forgetting snacks.
The volume escalates…and so does my blood pressure.
Then Angry Mom makes her debut.
I don’t like being Angry Mom, but here’s what I’ve discovered:
I get angry for two reasons:
Because of their behavior.
Disobedience, disrespect, whining, fighting, and irresponsible behavior lead me to yell. I find myself saying phrases like, “How many times have I told you to put your shoes up so I don’t trip?” and “I’m throwing away all the Legos tomorrow if you can’t take care of them!”
Because of what’s going on in my heart.
As I reflect back on all my many angry episodes, there are four “O’s” that trigger my frustration, and they’re all issues related to my heart.
1. I feel overwhelmed.
We waited nine years to have kids because I wasn’t sure that kids were my thing. I’m not particularly patient or nurturing, so parenting is hard for me. When I feel unequipped or out of my league, I get angry.
2. I feel out-of-control.
The husband is out of town. Our oldest stepped in dog vomit. The girls squabble over who-knows-what. I lose it. When I feel frazzled by circumstances and over-stimulated by the needs around me, I yell.
3. I’m overworked.
I’m on a deadline for the blog, have a talk to practice, there are toilets to clean, and I need to leave in 10 minutes. When there’s no margin in my day, interruptions make me angry. I get annoyed when someone gets hurt and yell for quiet when the girls giggle too loudly. Can’t my people see that mama’s got stuff to do?
4. I’m owed.
Feeling owed is the soil in which my anger most easily grows. In my mind, I’m owed ample time to do all the things, a husband who gets home at 5 p.m., and a little peace and quiet. When life isn’t easy, I get mad: Why is this happening? Why can’t they behave better? Why am I the worst mom?
I know that Angry Mom isn’t who I want to be.
My response to my sinful-angry outbursts goes like this:
- I beat myself up because I know anger doesn’t build our mother-daughter relationship.
- I quote Scripture to my heart. Ya know, the ones about how human anger doesn’t produce the righteousness God desires (James 1:20), how only a fool gives full vent to his anger (Proverbs 29:11), and how out of the overflow of the heart, a man speaks (Matthew 12:34).
All these Scriptures just make me feel worse than I already do. Guilt ensues.
- I apologize to the girls and God. Again.
Yet I can’t seem to control the anger as it wells up from the pit of my stomach and spews out of my mouth.
I know why I get angry and I know Angry Mom isn’t who I want to be. So what’s the next step for an Angry Mom?
I think that’s my problem: I want a step-by-step guide to tell me “If this, then that” or a 10-part webinar to teach me how to not get irrationally angry.
I want to be a perfectly-performing mama with well-behaved girls. My goal is to have calm, compliant, obedient, and respectful kids—but God has a different goal in mind.
God uses parenting to sanctify.
As Wendy Speake writes in the book Triggers, “God is more concerned with maturing us, in the fiery furnace of family life, than making sure our children are compliant and calm.” (Full Disclosure: I’m an Amazon Affiliate, which means I earn a bit of commission on each sale. But don’t worry there’s no added cost to you!)
What??!?!? The perfectionist performer in me can’t believe this is true. But it is.
God is all about conforming us more and more into the image of His Son. He’s not at all concerned with our external compliance if our inner heart isn’t propelled by love.
So then what’s an Angry Mom to do?
It’s discouraging for us perfectionists and try-hard moms to hear that there isn’t a guaranteed way to solve our anger issues, but I do have hope to offer.
Let’s never forget that God is all about our relationship with Him and our kids over rightness. He’ll create situations we cannot handle to bring us back to Him. He equips us to parent. He never forsakes us.
I’m not going to give you a checklist, but I’ve got some suggestions of things that have worked for this Angry Mom. Click here to get a free resources to help you understand what anger actually is, the three anger styles, resources I whole-heartedly recommend, and practical, common-sense strategies I (imperfectly) implement when I get angry.
But let me be clear: the ideas I outline will seem easy until a child throws a shoe at you. The words sound great as you read them, but when your tween acts out, well, that’s when our faith and love get real. Let’s remember that moving away from anger is a journey and a road full of potholes and setbacks.
When we leave labor and delivery, we know our kids are the best thing we’ve ever done. Angry Mom, don’t give up on yourself or your kids. Even in the anger, our kids are always our best thing we’ve ever done… Amen?