The Mom Whisperer: Mother Anger

By Vikki Spencer

madimages.jpgMom anger ranks as a taboo topic.

We read about tips for disciplining kids, balancing schedules, making a new casserole and how to save money – but rarely do we read “Top 5 Ways to Stop Being Ticked Off”.  There are no support groups that start with “Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m an angry Mommy.” “Hi Sarah…”

I’d actually like to see a whole blog or website dedicated solely to mama anger – complete with pictures of moms with mouths wide open and eyebrows furled. I’d feel so much better about myself.

Anger management is a work in progress for me. I have worked very hard, read lots of books, made tons of apologies and prayed –hard. In short, I’m on the road to recovery. Or, at least I know when to walk away and regroup in the bathroom before last night’s spaghetti starts blowing out of my ears.

So, I was surprised (but not totally shocked) to hear my 11-year-old son Jordan say, “You’re always mad at me!”

“Always?” I questioned.

“Well, almost always … sometimes.”

I thought if I kept asking I could work him down to “well, once this year you really yelled.” Instead, I said, “thanks for telling me how you feel” as I walked away for a “momma time out” (straight to the bedroom). I wondered how he and I could land on the same perception about my anger towards him. It had been a string of really great weeks, yet he still sensed something was wrong. 

I came up with the idea of index cards. I made five cards that simply say, “I feel you are mad at me.” His instructions: slap a card on the table whenever he feels or thinks I’m angry without a reason he can understand. If I get carded, we’ll talk about it -without anger.  We’re over a month into this and I’ve been carded one time – and I totally apologized. Now I can move onto the other 3,792 things I need to change…

In all my research through books, therapists, friends and personal experience, I’m going to make a scholarly analogy: anger is like a worn-out bra.

When bras are old, stretched out and ruined, they don’t accomplish their purpose. We usually hold onto them longer than we need to. It takes effort to toss and replace. Sometimes it’s easier to forget it’s a problem. Ultimately, we pass ourselves in the mirror one day and after acknowledging the reflection, find the nearest trash can and part with said undergarment. We make the time and effort to find a new one.  Bottom line for both bras and anger is – we keep ‘em around way longer than they work for us. Let’s look at anger’s “benefits” thus making us feel it’s still useful in some way.

The 9 Benefits of Anger

 Here are a few reasons we hold on to anger (yep, came up with the list all by myself…) 

1)  It feels good

2) It’s instant communication

3) It distances people (who probably have hurt us).

4) It’s powerful

5) It’s a choice (when we feel out of control)

6) It’s a clue (that something is wrong)

7) It’s honest (ever try lying while you’re yelling?)

8) It’s protective (from being hurt again)

9) It focuses the blame on someone besides me (ahhhh)

Anger serves us. The ways above are just a “mirror” for realizing the ways we use anger for our benefit – right before we decide to ditch it for something new and better.

Ultimately, all the “perks” of anger don’t outweigh the collateral damage that happens. We’ll chat about that next time in Mother Anger, Part II.

Vikki Spencer is a freelance writer and mom coach. You can follow her on Twitter at