Mommy Mojo: When Mom Completely Loses It – How to Regroup and Restore Relationships
When we decided to become moms, we all started with the greatest of intentions, didn’t we?
Do you remember the mission you thought you originally signed up for? Nurturing, loving, encouraging, amazing life partner to our husband and generally being an outstanding and formative role model for our little ones 24/7.
Somehow life isn’t like a scene from “Leave it to Beaver” most days…
True confession time now. Have you ever had an episode (or two or three or… who can count!) when Mom completely loses her cool? You know, one of those moments where despite the love in your heart you end up doing a version of Dr. Jekyll and Mama Hyde?
Instead of soft dulcet tones, you are horrified to hear yourself shrieking, sarcasm or worse coming out of your mouth. Your worst nightmare of a mother showed up looking like you. Somehow you get emotionally hijacked and find yourself engaging in the very tantrum behavior we most dread our children exhibiting in public.
When Mom completely loses it, it can be confusing or downright scary to our children. It can be baffling and frustrating to our partners. And we shrink in disbelief at our loss of composure and our lack of self-control.
How to Regroup and Restore Relationships after a Mommy Meltdown
#1: Stop the Insanity
When you feel yourself getting triggered by your reptilian brain’s instinctive “flight or fight” response, stop whatever you’re doing. Recognize that unchecked this groundswell of emotion is not likely to lead in the direction of loving relationships, and take a time out.
Count to 10 before saying anything, or excuse yourself with a “I need to take a few moments to myself right now.” Taking some deep belly breaths even for 60 seconds will help reverse the reptilian brain’s impulse to react, rather than respond.
#2: Defuse the Bomb Before it Gets Lit
When your emotions spill over unexpectedly and forcefully, it’s often because you overlooked a number of important clues. Are you caught up in people pleasing and feeling unappreciated? Have you ignored important boundaries that you need to enforce either at home or at work? Is there some deep truth you’ve been holding back from expressing?
Addressing where you might be feeling out of alignment with your important values helps keep you on a steady emotional keel.
#3: Clean Up After Yourself
Be willing to take responsibility for any inappropriate emotional fallout your outburst may have caused to those around you and to yourself. For children, it’s great to let them know, “Mommy was feeling really upset right now and I am sorry that I yelled/got sarcastic. I need to take care of myself by ___________. I hope you’ll forgive me for making you feel scared/sad/angry.”
Let them know that despite the high volume of your outburst, the love you have for them is not changed. When you feel more centered, invite your family members to engage in collective problem-solving to address whatever issue it was that set off your powder keg.
#4: Know That Being a Mom Doesn’t Mean You’re a Saint
We all have our raggedy moments, but if you lose your cool, please remember to find some compassion for yourself. If you flog yourself with guilt after losing it, you’re not doing yourself or your loved ones a favor.
Everyone makes mistakes, but they always offer the opportunity for greater personal wisdom and insight about needed course corrections.
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