I think we are angry often because....
We set a high standard for ourselves. We feel since we "know" the "right" way of doing things, when we fall short we feel guilty. I know I do this alot. If I don't do "the perfect thing", I feel lousy about myself, get angry and feel guilty, which leads to more difficulty. I was was better able to say "DS was making me nuts and I snapped at him to stop, he won't be permanently scarred- he is totally over it. Let it go", I'm sure we'd be better off. Knowing that, I feel double worse about when I can't let it go. When I'm upset for the rest of the day over something that should have been minor. Forgive myself... for not being perfect. Know that ds's life does not hinge on my "perfection", but much more on me as a whole parent. The occasionally crabby days, the off moments, the things we didn't do terribly, but could have done better... These matter much less than we think when we are mercilessly flogging ourselves for them. We want to do it just right because we love them so much. When we "fail them", it hurts. But we have to see that we are not failing them by "not being perfect", we would fail them if they never got to know us, to see us in our less beautiful moments, to watch us struggle sometimes, to see us apologize, to see us get back up? How sad if your mom was "always perfect"... how cold would that really feel?
I think sometimes we, as mothers and parents, bottle things up instead of being who we are. I think over all, I'm a really good mom. But when I try to be "perfect"- run myself ragged for a million toddler classes, say just the right thing after a day of tantrum after tantrum, make sure that every day we've read, played, done art, been outside, eaten only healthy things, been just the perfect mix of encouraging and supportive by saying just the right words every time (putting aside my own emotions) then I'm ready to snap. I've found that if I allow myself to say "Dang! Enough with the screaming already!" after the 3rd tantrum of the day instead of "Mommy wants to hear you ask in a nice voice..." I don't feel so... phoney. Betraying of myself. I heard Angelina Jolie say in an interveiw that she is a mother that lives big and allows herself to be her and that makes her a happy mother, which helps her be a good mother. I may not agree with her on everything, but there is an endenyable logic to that. I try to remind myself that I have a right to my feelings and I have a right to express them in different ways and as long as I am not destrctive or mean (which I'm not and don't feel, even in my worst moments I have never demeaned, threatned, or diminished my child in any way) I should allow myself that. It may not be "what the book says to say", but it is all still from the well of love I have for my child (even in hard times) and they are my words and there is something real to that.
I think we are tired. I semi-joke that I haven't slept in 3 years. It is true. I have not slept more than 5 hours straight in 3 years. For the first 2 years, it wasn't more than 3 hours in a row. It wears on a person.
Babies, toddlers and children do things that make us angry as people. No one likes to be pinched, kicked, insulted, continually in argument, made to drop everything when someone calls (which happens multiple times a day). Anger/frustration is a logical response. Most times we're very good at understanding why these demands and conditions are on us, that they are innocent in their needs and feelings and we can respond in positive ways, but who gets hit and doesn't feel upset as their first reaction? Yet we go through this rollercoaster frequently. Forcing down this base emotion in the face of loving logic. It can be tiring. With worn defenses and exhaustion, a toddler kick in the face can really make a person mad. There is honesty in understanding this. But there is also the demand that we move beyond that when we respond.
We (by we, I mean very much "I") feel a lack of time to reflect- to gather myself. I'm a SAHM and when my son (almost 3) is awake, he demands (or needs) my attention pretty much continuously. When he is sleep, it's laundry, phone calls, and maybe a half hour on mothering. When ds goes to bed, I'm exhausted too. There is not much time to sit and say "The next time ds does this, I'll...". Or, "I wonder if he's doing this because....". I feel like I'm going, going all the time. I don't have an opportunity to re-set the parenting dials. As soon as a "crisis" is over, there is not a minute before I'm tossed into the next event. No time to just let thoughts settle. No opportunity to re-group. Emotional go, go, go.
Along the lines of allowing ourselves to feel our own emotions, there is allowing ourselves to enjoy being ourselves. When was the last time I sat around a coffee shop and chatted with a friend with no kids at the table? When was the last time I went for a swim and did laps instead of a ball in the baby pool? How many interesting bands have I passed up because they are "after bedtime"? Honestly, how long do we expect to go (without getting angry/resentful) when we (again, I!) spend days, weeks, maybe months, never doing a single activity I want to do? Never allowing myself the opportunity to stretch my muscles or mind? We're kind of meant to feel guilty about these things, or that they are super special (Oooohhh. She got a BABYSITTER so she could do a pottery class? THAT must be nice... wink, wink). Um. "she" is probably much happier with that hour or two to be just herself. Being a mother does not have to be all consuming. If it is, then what are we left with? Where does our new reserve to feed this come from? What happens when we put ourselves on a shelf for years and years? We don't have to sacrafice our children's happiness to give ourselves the chance to enjoy our own interests, we just have to make it a priority as well.
I guess I am writing all this to remind myself. To put things into perspective... Sorry it was so long!