Anger has long been a struggle for me, partly Postpartum Depression, and in part, verbal diarrhea when emotions run high. Recently a text from L (For those who do not know, L is she whose fantastic baby shower we attended last year, and always a reminder of the power of friendships; read it here) came through, and took me down memory lane; To days when emotions and depression were an amalgam that made life a tunnel with elusive light. In her text, she made mention of bonding with J, my son. Hugs, and cuddles, and kisses, and so much warmth.
In retrospect, it was not always like this. J is 4.5 years now, and for the better part of 3 years I was a bitter, angry mom. Anger, for moms with PPD takes such a hold on your life. It feels like a choke-hold position by unimaginable forces. It is intense. It is irrational, and it saps the very joy of motherhood, stripping one right to their most vulnerability, and smirk in the midst of the shell-like condition. Now, I am grateful for having come to this point, a point where I cherish the moments, a point of healing from PPD. Looking back, there were a few reasons why I was an angry mom. Read on.
- Expecting too much from my LO given his age.
This was, undoubtedly, one of the biggest reasons why I was always snappy: expecting perfection great manners from a toddler who barely knew how to talk. My mom reiterated the fact that kids would only behave their age, at least up to a certain point. For instance, at 1 year, having weaned him well, I subconsciously expected him to feed without a mess.
Yet, now I cringe when I think of my expectations. Granted, such expectations are fodder for anger. My point, do expect your LO to make a mess when it is their first potty training session. Expect them to feed with their legs in the air when you wean them. Expect them to chew on stuff when they start teething. And when they get to 3, expect that silence means mischief, and take it in stride.
- Projecting my stress onto him
So, the client rejected his order, or there was an 8-hour blackout when I had an urgent order, or it was simply just one of those difficult days living in the haze of PPD. All these scenarios had a common denominator; in my personal disappointment, J was, sadly, the recipient of my outbursts. It was worse if he was having a cranky day. It meant (usually) 2 crying persons at home.
Having realized this tendency over a period of time, I set out to compartmentalize thoughts especially when having a rough day. Journaling has been of immense help for the simple reason that it helps me sort out my thoughts (ie, is it that I am angry at J for spilling milk accidentally, or am I mentally fatigued from the day’s events?) In line with this, writing a daily gratitude list helps put things in perspective (ie, this may be a heated moment, but I am grateful my son is healthy, going to school, has a supportive family…)
- Lack of self-care
Post-PPD, one of the most precious things for me is self-care. Just as the name suggests, this is all about caring for ME. Without this self-care, I feel like I am mechanically getting through my days, burnout and all. When I do not intentionally carve out time for myself (especially because I work from home), I get irritable because I feel like I have depleted my resources and I am running on empty.
Today, I guard my space, indulge in self-care (always baby-free) – whether it is a relaxing pedicure session, catching up on my favorite reads on a warm musty afternoon or simply making my best dishes using choice recipes (on that note, yall head over to Cooking with Jazz for simple delicious meals with a Kenyan touch). More recently, I am aware that my devotions play an integral role in my life. Spending time with God makes me less prone to irrationality, more intentional and overall realizing that in the grand scheme of things, I am steward of my son, not an owner.
These 3 were the major reasons I was an angry mom. I am slowly getting out of that debilitating angst that characterizes PPD, all the while seizing the precious moments before they fade away. Do you relate to any of the 3 reasons? How are you working around it? Let’s chat in the comment box below. I look forward to hearing from you.
PS: I wrote in detail about Scary Anger over at Butterfly mom’s blog, and you can read it here.