Since adding Chiara to the mix, I’ve been reading/thinking/talking about parenting more than I ever have before. It’s not her – she’s almost unicorn baby level of chill – it’s me. It’s me learning what it feels like to be stretched to my limits and operate at full capacity. And what it looks like when I snap.
Anger, friends. So much anger.
Before becoming a mom, I don’t know if I’d ever experienced anger as an emotion before. Seriously. Annoyance and irritation, sure, but … rage? Nope. I’m an Enneagram 9 and the classic problem with that type is “being out of touch with one’s anger,” and I always thought, hm, weird, that doesn’t apply to me. Hah!
A while ago, I had two separate conversations with friends in the course of a week about going to counseling for parenting issues. Specifically, dealing with anger as a parent. And it surprised me that I had never thought of this as an option before, but because it popped up twice, it seemed like something I should consider. But then, all the obstacles – cost, insurance, childcare? And I didn’t do anything.
Then, one afternoon a few days later, I had a fantastic blow up at Evangeline and finally decided – if counseling is what it takes to make this stop, I have to do it.
I ended up making an appointment at the Women’s Care Center in town because a) it’s free and b) I could bring Zelie and Chiara, and I had a conversation with a counselor. I went in expecting her to give me strategies to manage anger, but when I described that I have a 4 year old, 2.5 year old, and 5 month old, and I get angry with my 4 year old when I’m tired, she turned the conversation towards self-care.
Are you getting enough sleep? Do you have help from your husband? Do you get time to exercise, be alone?
And I thought, Wait a second. Is this really the answer?
I consider myself good at asking for help and knowing what I need. The self-care route seemed like an easy out.
Later that day, I started reading a book called Introverted Mom, and found myself laughing in relief. She laid out three truths about anger that RESONATED.
- Anger is the natural response to the hard parts of motherhood, especially as an introvert.
- Anger is an indicator to pause or change something (a bodily cue, similar to hunger).
- Quiet is a must for an introverted mom.
Oh yeah!! I’m an introvert! Everything made sense again. (I don’t know if I fully recommend this whole book, but it was worth it even just for this beginning part).
I don’t have an underlying anger issue. The self-care stuff isn’t secondary. I need to recharge to be a
sane person good mom and partner to Chris.
The book gave me some reminders of ways to recharge and I thought of things I already naturally do, but now I recognize them as necessary.
Here’s what’s working right now:
- Lighting a candle in the morning darkness
- Morning Prayer from Magnificat while I nurse (even v interrupted)
- Playing music
- Getting out for a run about 2x/week
- Reading novels while nursing
- Stepping outside to just breathe
- Soaking up the colors of the fall leaves
- 20 min power naps
- Going to bed as early as I can
- Conversations with good friends (over Marco Polo if not in person)
- Giving Evangeline a 20 min show after her quiet time (to bribe her to stay in her room for her quiet time and give myself a little more time)
- Historical British dramas (Downton Abbey)
I’m learning to recognize what my “buttons” are, and to step away when I need to. And to note, without judgement, when I am particularly tired or overstimulated … before I lose it. I’m working on making time during the week and a regular time each weekend for me to do something restorative (Chris is a big part of this).
Because then I set myself up to enjoy time with these cuties and they get a happier mama. Win win.