From the moment I became pregnant with my first child, I started planning. Baby shower and birth plans evolved into planning our days around feeding and nap schedules once my daughter was born. As time passed, I planned out which schools she would attend and the activities she would participate in. And eventually, I found myself planning to have another child. But one thing I didn't plan for? Mom anger.
As my kids have grown, so have their strong-willed personalities, and honestly, so has my tendency to react in anger. Most days are an endless cycle of butting heads with me and fighting with each other. More often than I like to admit, my frustration at their responses to pretty much everything I say - and to each other - turns into full-fledged anger and yelling. It's not something I'm proud of. But I'm human, which means there's a limit to my patience and the ability to remain calm during the often overwhelming days of motherhood. Over time though, I've learned how to quickly snapshot my way out of anger.
Snapshot? Yes, you read that correctly. When I find myself spiraling into an episode of mom anger, I step away from the chaos, pull out my phone, and scroll through photos of sweeter moments with my children; the go-to snapshots that will forever melt my heart regardless of what level of crazy is swirling around me. You know the ones. Photos from the day they were born. Pictures featuring toothless grins and chubby thighs. Images of laughter and hugs, snuggles and love. Photos from birthdays, family vacations, and everyday adventures that practically scream joy.
In almost an instant, these images ignite a sense of tenderness within me, softening my heart and slowing the pulse of anger. I immediately remember how much I love them and am quickly reminded that while they test and break my patience far more than any adult, they are still young. In these moments of calm and reflection I remember they are still children who are doing exactly what they are supposed to do: testing, learning, pushing limits, and exploring boundaries. Whether the images I scroll through are from a few weeks or a few years ago, I'm reminded that the hard days and frustrating moments are temporary, because my children won't be children for long.
Just the other day, after refereeing multiple rounds of fighting between my son and daughter, I blew up at them, only adding another layer of hostility to their shouting match. I separated them and took my own timeout by holing up in the bathroom, where I pulled out my phone. You know what I looked at? Images of my daughter helping her little brother learn to walk, pictures of the two of them snuggled up together during a recent movie night, and a video full of hysterical laughter during a tickle match. I smiled and laughed, despite being red-faced and angry just moments earlier.
Scrolling through those sweet memories helped me gain perspective - my kids may not always like each other, but there's no doubt they love each other. I may not always like them, but I most certainly love them. In the thick of parenting, the days seem long, the battles endless. But when I looked back on what were surely other hard days, I saw how much goodness there was, too. After we all calmed down, I apologized for losing my temper which prompted them to apologize to each other. Then I showed them the photos and videos I'd just looked at. They marveled at how little they were, we all laughed at their silliness and they ran off to play as if there had never been an argument. Looking at photos seemed to remind them how much they love each other, too.
Mom anger is real, valid, and something all of us have experienced in one way or another. When you're raising kids, every day is a rollercoaster because there are so many personalities and so many emotions involved. Anger is no doubt one of them, but it doesn't have to derail us. Taking a few minutes to remember and relish some of the more beautiful moments of motherhood by way of photo is a quick way to help release anger and get back on track. It's so easy to get buried in the hard of motherhood that we forget about the heart of it - love, laughter, and joy. In moments of anger, those things are still there, but we just need help bringing them to the surface. Seeing images of favorite memories with and between our kids can help us snap out of mom anger by remembering the more unsavory parts of motherhood are temporary, and that there is plenty more to look forward to.