Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Monday, May 22, 2017

How to Stop Being an Angry Mom?

Recently on Pinterest, this article on stopping anger toward your children by wearing hair ties came up in my 'picked for you' pins I might like.

Who on earth is angry toward their children, and why would Pinterest think I'm interested in that?! I was insulted. I mean, frustrated or tired sometimes sure - but actual anger? Anger that I would feel the need to curb by reading an article about using hair ties as a visual reminder to not berate my little girl...what the heck? You mean people actually feel this way toward their children? I was intrigued. 



With a little digging, I learned that the article came up as suggested because someone I know had pinned it. An overall, generally angry and unhappy person who happens to also be very rigid and controlling. Someone who doesn't smile as much as they used to. So that made sense, but still, it had 33 thousand shares!

I'm not sure if I was drawn to psychology because I am fascinated by the whys behind human behavior, or if studying psychology brought the interest out in me. I guess it's probably a combination of both, but this article got me thinking. How and why am I not an "angry Mom" and why are there people who are? What is the difference between us? Beyond just trying to curb or not express anger toward Baby A, I have never actually felt it - not ever, not once. Not when she took every bottle out of the spice drawer, dug in my plants and put dirt on her baby's face or ...? I cannot even think of another scenario that could even sound like something anyone would become angry with. I actually cannot imagine feeling that way toward her.

This is not to say that I will not at some point. But for me, there has to be intent behind something for it to upset me. And babies and toddlers exploring their world is to be expected, though messy it may be. But if she's in junior high and tells me she's going somewhere and intentionally goes somewhere else, well then you may find me with some hair ties around my wrists. I'll get back to you on that one.

Does the fact that I have not yet been angry toward her make me better than the 33 thousand moms who pinned this article? No, it just makes me different. And it lead me to examine the why behind that difference.

While I would like to think that I'm not ever angry toward my little girl because I regularly exercise (haven't in well over a month), eat well (more fast food than I care to admit lately), meditate (I did that once in my 20's) or love where I live (my dream is to move out of California), none of these things are factors. It isn't anything I'm trying to do or trying not to do, it just is.

But what is it that causes someone to routinely get mad at their child? The article is not about how to curb anger because they dumped nail polish on your new rug...but rather, routinely being angry over many different things. I would only be guessing at what causes that, but do recognize that there can be valid reasons such as postpartum depression or displacement of anger (ie actually mad at someone else that they cannot express it toward, like their husband or boss). All I can speak to, and reflect on, is why I am not. 

I do know that the fix cannot be something as simple as wearing hair ties on one arm and then moving them over to your other arm when you have violated your no-anger policy and lashed out at your child, as the article promises. 

How we treat our children is much more fundamental. It is much more ingrained in who we are, the life we lead, our perspective on children and, most importantly, how we ourselves were mothered. It is a beautiful mixture between nature and nurture that is so intertwined that the two cannot be separated.

Recognizing and shifting our perspective can be the key to doing things differently, if we want to. You cannot change something that you do not identify as needing to be changed. 

The life we lead. If we are generally happy and grateful for what we have, we are less angry. This doesn't mean that we need to have a lot to be grateful or have a fabulous, stress-free career, if such a thing even exists. It just means that we need to be thankful for what we have, and where we are. I have known people who have so much, yet it is not enough. Or, people who are very poor, but rich in spirit and in love. This was my Mom. For me, happiness also comes from being an authentic person. I show my true feelings and thoughts, and wear my heart on my sleeve. You know where you stand with me, and I'm not ever hiding anything. To me, its more work to hide how I feel anyway.

Our perspective on children. I remember my parents saying, on multiple occasions, that it is sad how people talk to their children in a way they wouldn't speak to their neighbors. I still remember their example too. "If you wanted your neighbor to help take out your trash, you wouldn't yell at them and tell them to do it. You would ask nicely." Children are to be valued and respected. Being treated with respect shouldn't start when the arbitrary age of 18 is reached and you can vote. They may be tiny humans, but they're human. Also, enduring all of the infertility treatments that we have had serves as a constant reminder to me what a miracle our Baby A is. And how lucky we are that she chose us, and we are her parents.

How we were mothered. My Mom was the most patient, sweet, selfless and loving person I have ever known. Even during my teen years, my mom and I remained unwaveringly close. She loved unconditionally, and never held a grudge or seemed mad at me. If she didn't agree with something, I knew it, but she moved on and was never cold or distant. She fully entered my world and knew my friends, interests and music. She was my Mom first, but also my best friend. To this day, when something amazing or heartbreaking happens, she is the first one that I want to share it with.

I didn't know what type of Mom I would be until I became one. I am relieved and a bit surprised as I sit here reflecting on these past two years that I am more like her than I ever hoped I could be. It wasn't until I saw this article that I even thought about it. Were this not the case, I would be pinning stuff like this too. Women who are raised one way and actively work to change it are to be applauded. Without realizing it, I am just doing what comes naturally to me. 

2 comments:

  1. I think all of what you said is true. So much of how we parent is based on how we were parented. I guess because that's what we know. With a toddler boy he is super active and everywhere and into everything constantly so he definitely tests my patience but I never get angry with him, that I don't understand at all. Exploring is how they learn.

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  2. I agree that it's hard to understand being angry with a baby or a small toddler. However, as a mom to four kids that are now older, including a 5-year-old and three teenagers, it is easy to fall into the trap of having mostly negative interactions with your children. When they continually makes messes and refuse to clean up after themselves despite numerous friendly reminders, when they speak disrespectfully to me, when they take MY underwear because they don't have any clean ones because they didn't do their laundry. When they get ready to go out in MY bathroom and leave their makeup and hair appliances all over my vanity... When my five-year-old has a temper tantrum because he doesn't want to share our ice cubes with his friend, etc. etc. etc. These are all things that happened in my house, this week. So, yeah, some of us have to remind ourselves to take a breath and make sure to foster positive interactions with our children, rather than continually harping them about what they're doing wrong. I have really awesome kids - they are good students, are generally kind and respectful to others, and are very responsible (outside of picking up after themselves at home). I think it's okay for them to suffer the natural consequence of mom being mad when they behave in a rude and inconsiderate manner.

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