When the Anger of Motherhood Brings You to Tears | Sojourners

When the Anger of Motherhood Brings You to Tears

I’ve heard it said that you don’t know true love until you hold your baby for the first time. I hate that, for so many reasons. And I hate whoever has said it to me or anyone else. Hate it.

This may come as a shock, but I’ve got the slightest anger issue. It’s more accurate to say I didn’t know true anger until I became a mother.

There’s the daily anger, like slaving away in the kitchen for hours only to have people gag and demand crunchy toast and cookies to eat, while they scream and scratch their sister and slip on spilled water and cry for hours. There’s the hourly anger, like the struggle between wanting to check out and check e-mail in the face of little people wanting to play or needing to be disciplined.

Then we have the deep anger, which is borne from lies that tell us we’re not good enough and never will be. Or from horrific attacks and mass injustices that make us see all the ugly in the world at the same time as we hold our babies in our lap, unable to protect them. And I get angry thinking about the lurking cancer, rapist, infertility, poverty, addiction that will claim me, my family, my people, my neighbors. God, why?

I heard once that anger is our surface emotion, and sadness is what’s truly underneath. I think that’s true. My righteous indignation can fuel me for a long time, but once the dust settles … so much sadness. While conflict and fighting can be uncomfortable – I’m not talking about violent, deadly fighting, but the relational conflict that comes from living life with people – I think sitting in sadness is even harder.

Have you mourned with a dear friend who lost a baby? Have you held the hand of someone who just found out she had cancer? Have you just entered into the sadness and been present?

If you’re like me, you want to find a solution, not sit in the sadness. Even dropping off a meal to someone in pain is solving the issue of grumbling tummies, which is better than sitting in awkward silence with tears and no answers. At least for me. And on the flip side, when I’m hurting, I hide.

On the global level, like terrorism in France, there are real culprits. They incite rage and inflict the ultimate sorrow. They have motives, and they should be, must be stopped. But there’s a time and place for finding solutions.

We can pare the brokenness, the intense pain and suffering, down to sin. I think that’s the most important truth, while also being the most irresponsible oversimplification. Thankfully – really, thank you, Jesus – there’s a solution for our sin. But for now, there’s a lot of anger on behalf of people watching France from close or afar. I think there’s even more sadness. Now is the time, I think, to mourn.

Let’s mourn together. Whether over a global event or our own personal experiences, we find healing and depth of relationships in sitting together and allowing ourselves to feel sadness. Don’t hide your pain behind false happiness or anger. And when you’re feeling rage-y, instead of screaming at the kids, peek behind the lids and see if there is sorrow.

Perhaps it isn’t motherhood that’s ushered in my anger. Maybe maturing and aging widens our breadth for joy and sadness, and everything else that comes with them. There’s a time for reconciling those emotions and chipping away at the negativity, repenting of our sin and changing our outlook. There’s also a time to shake our fist in anger or hang our head with sobbing. It’s OK to feel it, and to share it with others.

Every tear will one day be wiped away, but for today, I say, let’s cry.

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