Today’s post is a guest post written by Katherine, one of the co-ordinators of The Motherkind Café.
Burning, frustrating, simmering, bubbling, twisting, seething, red-hot…anger. I’m sure we’ve all felt it, from arguments in the playground to the slight at work. But I wasn’t expecting so much of it with a baby in the house.
We often talk at The Motherkind Café about what “nobody told me.” I never once anticipated being angry after welcoming a child. To clarify, I was never angry at my baby. I was angry at the world.
I am sure if you asked colleagues, friends and family about me, the first adjective they would use would be “calm”; historically, I am pretty chill. I try not to let things bother me and I try to conceptualise situations so that anything that unsettled me at the time is forgotten about relatively quickly. So when I had my second child, I was completely and utterly swept off my feet by the torrent of anger.
I was a complete ball of rage. It arrived about 6 weeks after my baby boy and stayed for about 18 months. It consumed me, every perceived slight felt like a slap in the face, and I was defensive, argumentative and probably a bloody nightmare for anyone who was in my company. I lashed out, particularly at those who did stick around, but mostly my anger made me hide. I stopped going out, avoided activities. I was afraid of this “new me.” I’d become “shouty Mummy,” someone I’d not met before, and I loathed her.
Along with the anger came the tears. After lashing out I’d dissolve into unrelenting feelings of anguish. Again, I’ve never been someone who wore their heart on their sleeve; it was a surprise to have such emotion bubbling near the surface all the time.
I didn’t speak to anyone about “shouty Mummy” for a long time, but after a particularly difficult day, I sat in front of a GP who gave my feelings a new name: depression. I thought depression meant feeling sad, but actually being angry is quite a common theme for some people.
These feelings of anger have started to creep up on me in recent weeks with the arrival of Covid-19. After a discussion with some friends, the lockdown has been somewhat compared to all the bad days of maternity leave: not being able to leave the house, boredom, confinement, unrelenting demands from small people, feeling unappreciated and generally pretty angry at the world for this happening.
I had plans I was looking forward to concluding, ideas and aspirations to achieve; being stuck inside for 6 weeks was not on my list of things to do. I enjoy spending time with my children and my other half, but we are well and truly bored of each other now: we all need a break from each other’s company and well, we aren’t going to get it. “Shouty Mummy” has returned on occasion, and her arrival gave me a bit of a reality check. I was feeling under pressure and I need to be kind to myself. I do not want to return to a period of life which I would describe as completely miserable.
For me, reaching out and sharing my frustration was an important part of getting rid of it, and I can do this now without shouting or crying thanks to some CBT classes and clarity. I can describe how I’m feeling with greater ease, and I also allow myself to feel. Having a bad day is ok: I label it “I’m having an off day,” I expect less of myself and I expect less of others, and I know tomorrow will be different.
We all know why lockdown is important, I don’t think I need to lecture anyone, but it’s also ok to be struggling with it, to be angry that what you want to do, you can’t. I avoid any social media which informs me that “other people are having a worse time than me”: well, I am sorry about that, but other people’s misery does not detract from mine. Suffering is cold, not hunger.
For anyone feeling angry and needing an outlet, although we cannot meet in person, The Motherkind Virtual Café online community is still open for anyone who needs it, and I promise I won’t be telling you that your feelings are invalid.