I’m officially 33 weeks pregnant, working the last week of my summer teaching job, and raising a toddler! Wow, do I feel stretched thin. Not even thin. Just…transparent. I’m looking at myself writing down the calendar and keeping up with appointments and buying things off the baby list and doing laundry and keeping enough sippy cups clean for the next day and packing lunches and grading and lesson planning and trying to fit in healthy “me” time, but the person I’m looking at isn’t me. It’s an angry, tired version of me.
I’m not just physically tired, I’m also tired of the grind. I do wake up time with my toddler 5 days a week, which can be a hard/fussy time of the day (especially on the days I have to get him to daycare). I also do nap time 5 days a week, and bedtime 7 days a week. It’s draining. You ever hear that saying:
“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
Yeah, my cup ran out somewhere in my second trimester. I don’t even know what I’m pouring anymore (not wine, because I’m pregnant).
I’ve googled “pregnancy rage,” it’s a thing, but I don’t know if that’s what I have. There are just these moments where I experience profound anger. I often feel anger towards my toddler (usually for doing some completely age-appropriate thing), or anger at partner (who also has his own life stress, and his own job).
What use is it?
Yelling at my toddler won’t help him be a better little dude. It would just turn him into a man who yells. Yelling at my partner won’t suddenly make him available for wake-ups and nap time, or put him in the mood to pitch in more.
Anger does nothing, and since it is not a useful emotion I am left feeling helpless. Most often, I think moms get angry because we feel overwhelmed. By the time we finish writing the to-do list we are already exhausted. Much of the work we do is of the “invisible,” behind-the-scenes variety. If you looked at the tasks individually they seem so small they are hardly worth recognizing, like, “Oh, you picked up a gift for the birthday party.” But when you stop to consider that a million of these small tasks fill up a woman’s entire free time, they become to mean quite a lot. At least to her. The lack of acknowledgement becomes resentment, and then we are right back in anger-land.
Nobody wants to be the angry mama. You know the one that you stare at in the grocery store, who is yelling through tears. Why do so many of us end up there? I don’t think it’s just my problem, or a problem a few of us share. I think feeling overworked and underappreciated has become a hallmark of modern motherhood. My pregnancy hormones have just underscored this even more.
What can we do? I think recognition is the first step. Hardly anybody walks up the rage-crying mama in the store. How sad is it that in a moment where someone is at their most helpless, our first instinct is to look away? We have been socialized to “mind our own business,” at the cost of sacrificing real connection. We have to re-embrace the value of helping each other. It should become an expectation. So many moms feel lonely, even though almost all moms live in a community.
I think the harder part is communicating that we need recognition for all of that “invisible” work, and that sometimes it is too much for one person to take on, mentally or physically. Partners can start by tracking doctor’s appointments for kiddos, learning daycare rules of what can go in their lunches, packing lunches, noticing chores to be done (like laundry) and doing them, going grocery shopping, and planning meals for the week. The list could go on and on. Some partners are great at sharing this work, but often it becomes the default job of the “mom.”
If you see your partner struggling, please have a real conversation about how to better divide the “invisible” work. Don’t wait for them to schedule the conversation, as that just becomes yet another thing on their list.
And if you love your family, but you also sometimes feel like you need a dimly lit room and a pillow to scream into, know that you are not alone. I see you, Mama! You are doing the best you can.