Years ago as a brand new mom to a little boy I couldn’t possibly love more I had my first experience with the kind of anger that scared me.
I can’t remember the circumstances leading up to that moment or what exactly it was that ignited me, but I will never forget the fire I felt searing me from the inside and the violent, ugly thoughts that flashed through my mind.
The darkness frightened me.
No doubt there was a spectacular concoction of sleep deprivation and overwhelm that paved the way for me to lose it. (This is, of course, on top of the upheaval that children naturally bring to a home once accustomed to regular sleep ins and the luxury of a relatively easy weekly laundry rotation.) There were also other factors undermining my explosive emotions—financial pressures, a strained relationship with a friend, friction surrounding my role at work.
But the fact that I visualized throwing my adorable toddler into the wall terrified me. (Yes, I really did just admit that: I visualized shoving my toddler against the wall. Ugh.)
Who was this woman? Was this really me—the Christian mother committed to gentle discipline and intentional parenting? The wife who had never even yelled at my husband?
In that moment I suddenly realized how people could snap right in two and do unthinkable things they regret for the rest of their lives. Never before had I possessed an ounce of sympathy for someone known to abuse a child, but in that moment I was faced with the dark side of my own humanity and this is what I saw: I was capable of anything. Yes, even toward the tiniest person whom I loved with the most giant of loves. I was that person—the abuser—not in action or words but in the temptation of my heart.
To be clear, I wasn’t afraid I would actually inflict physical harm to my son. As angry as I was, I knew I had the self control to not act on what I felt. What most frightened me was the content of my own heart. Simply having the idea jet through my mind at all was enough to leave me shaking and scared and ashamed.
With trembling hands and a heart pounding my insides to a pulp, I called my husband and said, “I’m not okay.” I described how angry I was and confessed the darkness I had seen exposed in my heart. I told him I didn’t trust myself to be alone with our little one until I could figure out how to cool down.
CONTINUE READING (and see what I’ve since learned) on Kindred Mom >>>
You might also be interested to read A Mother’s Confessional (in which I confess all of my fears and inadequacies about motherhood).
Listen to my interview about anger and dealing with big feelings in motherhood on the Kindred Mom podcast, episode 036. (My 1/2 hour interview starts around minute 33!)