Let’s Talk About “Mom Rage”

Emi Sano
8 min readFeb 16

— And what it really means.

This may be the longest piece I’ve written. Time to buckle in because this is very important. And we needed to talk about this yesterday.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the poor mom who is battling postpartum depression alongside postpartum psychosis. I won’t name her here as I know she probably will wake up out of this and be horrified to learn what happened. Then to see the incident pop up over again on social media with her name attached to it; I’m sure it’ll be a nightmare. I don’t want to add to this, so out of respect, I’m keeping the details out of this.

So, Mom Rage. What is it?

It’s that moment of just pure uncontrollable anger pouring out of your soul. It’s that yelling, slamming of doors, stomping of the feet, and sometimes even crying out in anger. Yes, we’ve all had those moments prior to being a mom, but this one has a reason behind it. And that’s hormones. Add the hormonal fluctuation a mom gets after giving birth to lack of sleep, new found anxiety and depression, and the feeling of helplessness, one can find themselves in “rage mode” without even realizing it.

Mom rage episodes are not a one-time deal. These episodes can happen frequently if the person isn’t getting the right care or is too burnt out. I’ve listened to a few podcasts and watched some social media videos from moms who’ve been in this situation. They talked about how they would just explode and then immediately feel this sense of guilt or shame about it.

To be honest, I didn’t even know this was a thing until I heard some people mention it in my mommy groups that I am in online. I knew about postpartum depression and anxiety. I didn’t know that it could also make someone turn into a scary monster — or in my son’s words “a scary dinosaur”. I didn’t realize that this was what I was experiencing until I swallowed my pride and talked to a friend about it.

Grieving Your Past Self

It’s completely normal as a new mom or dad to grieve the person you used to be. Suddenly you are a parent. You are no longer the individual person you used to be with your own identity and hobbies. Sometimes this can lead to an overwhelming sense of loss. Mix that with your PPD or PPA and you can see how that can cause one to be overwhelmed.

My Personal Experience

I’ve experienced mom rage. I’ve been in that moment where it just builds, then a small incident just sets off the bomb, and I explode. It almost felt like it was an everyday occurance. I would sit and cry afterwards because I felt like a horrible person who was traumatizing their baby.

What got me through it was my first ever “mommy friend” telling me that this wasn’t me and that he will likely not remember any of this when he is older. That telling me she has experienced this before and I’m not alone. Having my husband recognize that I was not okay and needed help. And MY mom coming through and making the 1.5 hour trip every week to sit and do my laundry, cook, clean my house while I took care of my son. All of this helped me in so many ways that I am very grateful for it all.

I realize now that I probably needed therapy as well, but that wasn’t affordable for me. So I made do with the best I could. I’m really grateful for my small tribe of moms (and dads) that helped me through my first year of postpartum. But I understand some people don’t have their village and it can be very dangerous.

Note: I am focusing on moms right now — I do want to acknowledge that parent rage is also very important to understand that it’s not just a MOM issue. But for this article, I’m focusing on moms just because I’m sharing my anecdotal experiences along with whatever information I found in my research.

I still have bursts of mommy rage when I’m overwhelmed, overtired, and overstimulated. I recently changed birth control and could see how that hormone change affected my mood. As my son grows, I notice that my sudden rage is starting to take affect on him. Like I’ve mentioned before we call it the scary dinosaur. Sometimes he will become a scary dinosaur when he is overwhelmed and cannot regulate his emotions very well. We are both working on it together.

I apologize almost right away for my sudden outbursts. It scares me when I do it because I don’t even recognize myself. I don’t even know that I’m doing it until I see his face. And that forever breaks my heart into a million pieces. I don’t understand how people can do it for enjoyment.

I’m writing this so that other moms who’ve experienced this knows, you are not alone. It happens to even the best parents. We are human and humans have emotions. We are allowed to have emotions, yes parents can yell, but as long as you own up to it and talk it through with your children in age-appropriate language, you will not “mess up” your child for a lifetime.

Psychological Effects

What is psychologically damaging to children is being in the constant fear-mode. If their cortisol levels are consistently being high, because they are in continuous fight or flight mode, they will incur brain damage and will have lasting effects in their adulthood. A prime example of a child who had a parent who was constantly explosive would be an adult who instantly cries or shows very strong emotions over spilled milk. Or they might even take the extreme opposite approach and feel completely unemotional about the situation.*

*These extremes are definitely worth seeking help over as it is not okay to have such extreme reactions to something very trivial as spilled milk.

In the end, you should be actively working on controlling your temper and letting your children know that it is not on THEM to help you control your anger, it’s on YOU. Just like how you can explain to them their emotions are in their control. It’s not on US to control their feelings, it’s on them. We are there for guidance and support, but ultimately, we control our feelings — nobody else.

We also have to be aware that our children are like sponges. They will soak up everything they see us doing or saying. If we are in constant state of dysregulation it will be no surprise to see that our children will be as well. It’s not to say that we have to be the perfect, happy parent 24/7, but we have to start recognizing when we ourselves are experiencing dysregulation. We have to let them see us having the recognition and working through it with our coping mechanisms.

I can notice it in myself almost instantly, now. Unfortunately it’s my husband that gets the brunt of my emotions. We had a talk about it recently and I didn’t realize how much I’ve been hurting him. I’ve been working on coping mechanisms to help me regulate as I experience distress or overstimulation. I’m also trying to be mindful about my words and how I express my thoughts as I want to be a good role model for my child.

So what can we do to minimize our mom rage?

  1. Take deep breaths. That sounds silly and obvious. But really. In the heat of the moment we tend to forget to breath or we don’t take our time to just inhale and exhale slowly. What happens we take deep breaths? Our body takes in more oxygen. Our heart rate lowers allowing the oxygen to go into our bloodstream. It basically combats the cortisol and ups your endorphins telling your brain to relax.
  2. Prioritize sleep. I can see you rolling your eyes and laughing. Really? Sleep? What is that when you have a baby? I know it’s hard to do. Trust me, I have a contact napper and a bed-sharing toddler. But sleep is really important. If you can find someone to help share in baby watching duties while you take a nap, please give them a call!
  3. Ask for help. This helps me segue into asking for help. It took me a while to realize asking for help didn’t make me a failure as a parent. I learned to give myself some grace. This also includes asking to go to inpatient care to get yourself away from potential harm.
  4. Set Boundaries. It’s incredibly important to be able to set boundaries and ask for help in areas. Let your partner know if you feel like you are taking on too many tasks. Letting resentment build up inside will only fuel that rage fire. Set a boundary on how much you’re willing to do. Also, “No,” is absolutely a sentence.
  5. Therapy. If you can afford some therapy, talking it out with an unbiased individual can help you. Even if it’s someone you know and trust to talk about how you feel. I remember talking out my rage with a couple of my friends, some who don’t even have kids and they completely listened and talked it through with me. It calmed me down a lot and brought me back to normal. I feel as if I would have benefitted from real therapy but it was nice that I could have my friends on standby to talk to.
  6. Medication. It’s not a bad thing to be medicated. If you need to be on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication to help lower your triggers for rage mode, then so be it! I don’t know where the stigma of being medicated for mental health was bad, but if it’s there to help you become a happier and healthier person, then do it!

There’s a lot more ways to help manage your rage. But the most important thing is if you are experiencing or having thoughts of harm to yourself or your loved ones, please dial 988 or go to the nearest emergency mental health care facility.

How can you help a friend going through this?

  1. Check in. Even if they didn’t ask for it. Even if you don’t notice a change in your friend’s language or behavior, check in on them. Ask them how they are doing. Maybe just stop by and let them talk.
  2. Offer to take care of them. If they just had a baby, offering to help them clean while they rest, doing laundry, or even just letting them have time to take a shower can help alleviate the stress from being a new parent.
  3. Drop off meals. It meant the world to me when my friends dropped off meals or some baked goods. I felt like I had one less thing to worry about. Even during the pandemic when I felt the most isolated, I was very grateful to have friends who would leave food at the door for us.
  4. Find them help. I read an article where a person had reached out for help because they felt they were going to harm themselves or their children a group of mothers stepped in and took care of the mom. They made the calls to therapist offices to get an emergency appointment set. I thought how wonderful that must have been for that person. If you have a friend that is in a point of desperation, please help them find the help they need.

I’m not going to get into the politics on the state of our mental healthcare. But I will say this: mental health care is healthcare. We need to push for better services and more rooms/beds.

— And we need better postpartum care.

Did I miss anything? Was there something that helped you through your mommy rage? Post in the comments. Help a parent out!

Emi Sano

Emi Sano is a self-published author of “Voices: a short story collection” and YA novella “We Don’t Talk About That.” She freelances as a writer/blogger.