The rage on backorder is being delivered NOW
Unloading things you didn't even realize you were mad about
I quit drinking at the end of the pandemic which didn’t solve all my problems, but it addressed some. I throw up a lot less, my dark feelings are a few shades lighter, I don’t spend any time wondering if I should drink less and how. Additionally, I have found I don’t second-guess my rage as much. (Shout out to Minna Dubin for getting mom rage out there in the mainstream these last few weeks.)
It took a long time for me to identify the drinking rage. I’d be merrily sipping along on my New Zealand Sauv Blanc (the best) when all of a sudden, I’d hate my husband so much. I’d hate him with a rage that went deep in my bones and made me only start fixating on the things I did or gave up and didn’t get acknowledged for. I hated him for being a man, or maybe I hated all men (including my kids) for being my husband’s kind.
Looking back, the drinking rage made its debut after I had kids; who knows if it was my age or my hormones or just some beautiful transformation. I remember feeling sad on our older son’s first birthday because we went to my cousin’s wedding and had a great time feeling free and “normal,” and before I knew it, my husband and I were having a big fight on the way home that seemed to come out of nowhere and was very personal. I thought about how that’s no way to spend that night; we should be reflecting with pride on how we got through the year. He tried to apologize the next day, and, embarrassed, I said I wasn’t even mad about anything real and could we just forget about it.
Now that I don’t drink, I don’t feel sad about being mad when I am mad. I do still get the I-hate-that-my-entire-life-I-am-surrounded-by-idiot-men-get-me-out-of-here reds around my period, but that feels, as we say in the Catholic church, right and just. I don’t particularly like being mad and they don’t always deserve it, but I think it is fair to be angry at least once a month about being a woman, wife, or mother.
This is a useful philosophy because I got big mad at my younger kid on Sunday morning. At around 6:30 AM, I caught him sneaking devices (a disused iPhone managed to escape the lockbox), which is a big deal in our house.
I was so mad—at myself, but also at him for retroactively enjoying many days of “fun mom” who had foolishly leaned into treats and extras. I had just taken him to see Blue Man Group the night before with his brother and then to dinner out, and, for a work assignment, I was going to take him to a children’s play that morning. I had been thinking about having a cute just-the-two-of-us lunch after, but he had to go and blow it by betraying me.
While I was fired up, I started thinking about the caretaking and loving moments I had bequeathed to him over the last few weeks like a total idiot: washing and tracking down his baseball uniform, going into school for a meeting with his counselor to set up his care plan, scheduling and rescheduling our family therapy, making his favorite meatballs, the Happy Meals, picking up towels off the floor, cutting his toenails, slicing his strawberries, wiping his glasses. I did all this just to be treated like this?! The rage tally kept flowing out like those streamers magicians put in their mouths that just keep coming and coming as you pull on them (I just learned those are called mouth coils.) I remember my own mom doing this when I was a kid, when you realize you’re not just in trouble for something right now but for things in the back of her head you didn’t see coming.
Because I am an adult, I stopped myself from going into my child’s room and berating him more than two or three times over the screen treachery and instead made a very mature list of how I felt in terms of how I’d been treated. On the left-hand column, I wrote “You Get” and listed all the nice things he had enjoyed over the last 12 hours. Under “I Get,” I wrote down “lied to,” “paying for everything,” and “cleaning up.”
Even more maturely, I balled up and threw away the list without showing it to him. I figured he didn’t need hard copy evidence of how I felt. (Although I did share it in commiseration with a friend who told me how her eight-year-old son told her he was disappointed in her because she didn’t buy him mints at Trader Joe’s. )
My kid and I were mostly fine by the time we got home from the Sunday morning play, although I did have him answer a questionnaire I made with some residual rage fumes since I wouldn’t have had to go see a children’s play across town if not for him:
But being mad, sober/hungover or not, is exhausting. I swore off parenting for the rest of the day after lunch and, by evening time, felt a lot better after seeing some friends and taking a break from adding to the tally of parenting things I do that I may or may not be angry about later.
Anyway, I am not proud of being Big Mad, but I had a feeling of “still got it, baby” when I realized that even without white wine, if I had to, I could really go deep and pull out a back history to wind me up for a few hours. Sometimes, everyone needs to realize that you can accidentally tap a full geyser of anger in mom, no matter what she’s been drinking or where she is in her cycle.
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One witchy thing
The response I got from a friend when I asked her about a military museum (name redacted) she’d told me she’d taken her kids to: