Things they don't tell you about motherhood #2739 (and 10 things that help)
I have never felt so angry in all my life as in the last two weeks.
I'm certainly not immune to anger, but it often passes pretty soon. Until the last fortnight, the worst bout of anger I've had in recent years was the week I spent writing my book chapter on anger (funny that).
This time though, it's been epic. I didn't have a blue with my partner, and nothing particularly awful happened, but every tool in my tool-belt has been called on to avoid throwing the child I love most in the world across the room in fury.
She is a toddler, and as much as I usually detest the term "turdler", it has felt eerily accurate.
Molar-interrupted nights and out of this world separation anxiety-fuelled days, perfectly timed to coincide with a thousands of kilometre road trip to unfamiliar people and places, with a side serving of "why are you still not finished?" manuscript reviews to complete. I have discovered that this, my friends, is my ideal recipe for red hot rage seeping from my cells.
Here are the 10 things that have helped me during my exploration of #2739 of the "Things they don't tell you about motherhood" - ANGER.
- Many, many, many deep breaths.
- Singing, stomping, dancing and moving my angry energy through my body instead of directing physical violence or yelling towards her.
- If I did yell or scare her, knowing that it didn't mean I had failed forever as a mother. (See the "guilt" and "anger" chapters of my book, or see the work of Dr Dan Siegel for a thorough how-to on do rupture and repair of relationships with a child)
- Knowing that when she is Queen of Cling City she is having a hard time, not giving me a hard time.
- Reestablishing connection through roughhousing and power-reversal play (listen to episode 10 of the podcast with Shelley Clarke for more on this).
- Knowing that she doesn't make me feel anything, I am responsible for my own feelings, and the more I try to force myself to feel better, the worse I feel.
- Getting as much back up as possible through daylight hours (thank you, Team Toddler who may be reading this).
- That the attachment parenting practices I use (like extended breastfeeding and cosleeping) are wonderful but also taken out of culturally supportive context, and you're able to set limits around them or change your approach if it stops working for you. (This blog from Emmeline Tyler explains this idea beautifully).
- Walking away from her when she was in a safe place or with someone else she knows when I couldn't handle it any longer (full disclosure - this happened at least twice every day, some days every hour).
- Knowing that this too shall pass.
Today feels like we've turned a corner. This is passing for me.
Is she easier? Maybe, or maybe I've dropped all expectations about what things *should* be like right now.
If it isn't passing for you, you might want to call PANDA, the parents mental health phone support service on 1300 726 306. Postpartum rage can be a presenting symptom for postnatal depression, which is most common four years after your first baby.
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