I see her almost every time I go out in public. You've probably seen her, too. She looks like a mild-mannered young mother, often with her little ones and their necessary garb in tow. But suddenly, and without warning, she morphs into a short-tempered, inflexible, ugly, often insulting, beast-mom.

I can hardly go in public without another sighting. The mother in the public restroom degrading her daughter for not moving out of the way so the door can close. The mother in a restaurant completely beside herself because space at the available table won't allow her to put the high chair where she'd like. The mother creating a scene because the only racecar shopping cart is too dirty. Unfortunately, I realize, I see it in myself when the children would rather dance into their carseats than roboticly sit and fasten their seatbelts.

What has so many of us so high strung?

I have some thoughts:
1. Budget stress - For many women, economic security is a high emotional need. Many of us hear the talk in the media, but don't have the time and energy to understand it. The fear of the unknown overtakes us and we begin to worry about our own financial situation. We start scouring sale ads, collecting coupons, reading budget friendly cookbooks, all in an effort to control something that really is out of our control. This additional stress can be a real burden and certainly could shorten our overall patience.
2. High expectations - In this age of select sports and elite preschools, the competition drives many of us set unreasonably high expectations for our kids, and often for ourselves. This sprint to perfectionism will cause all of us to fail. I think sports and preschool and all the other things are beneficial to kids, but we parents have to give our children room to be kids.
3. TMI - The internet is such a useful tool. My kids can watch astronauts take space walks and research the lives of dinosaurs. But it also gives moms every product recall, every research study result, and every medical finding. What mom wouldn't be stressed out to learn that her child's favorite toy is coated in toxic paint, but taking it away could cause feelings of insecurity that could lead to bedwetting!?

So what's a mother to do?
First, learn your own triggers. What causes the beast to rise in you? Then create ways to work around it. It's OK to make lifestyle adjustments to work around your weaknesses. I know that if I don't get time to myself regularly, my patience starts to waiver. So this summer I've had a teenager come babysit one afternoon each week. This gives me time to take a deep breath, get something accomplished, and really just dash in and out of a store. It does cost us a little in cash and mommy-guilt, but it's really so worth it.

Second, count to ten. Will this situation really matter in 10 minutes, 10 weeks, 10 years? If not, calmly let it go and creatively think of a solution.

Third, remember the mom you dreamed you'd be. When we first learned we'd be parents, we all had a picture in our heads of the fun, kind, beautiful mom we'd be. Let that picture become your reality.

Goodbye, beast-mom! Hello, fun-mom!
2 Responses
  1. JDTapp Says:

    No pressure on that last point, right? I have another hypothesis not on your list: hormones!

  2. Starr Says:

    Great post! Thanks. (And ditch the mommy guilt over your one afternoon! It's good for them as much as for you!)