Anger, Inc.

A frothy swig from the bottle of a room-temp IBC root beer and a 30-second devour of a day old sweet-cream pastry from a local bakery. Sweethearts Gourmet Donuts. Donuts You’ll Fall in Love With”. (which share a pantry with “Kettle Chips. A Chip You Can Respect in the Morning.” )

As if I need to add one more notch to the belt of my food addictions.

This is how I start my day today.

Back up. My start started just after the wee hours of midnight when Kaia awoke screaming in her crib. Her big girl bed had been relegated to my dear Dad, who was on his second night visiting us. And the rest of the night went down(hill) like this:

Extricate Kaia from crib. Hunker down with her on mattress in living room. Awaken shortly to Indi screaming for a snack in our bedroom. Trek to bedroom and nurse Indi. Squint eyes under the glare of the living room lights Kaia has managed to flip on. Hear the crash of Lego blocks and then padded footsteps down the hall into our room. Try to pry a climbing, whining, wailing Kaia off of my body as I nurse Indi in hopes of keeping her settled. Listen to Jason (who is battling enormous tooth pain) try to reason Kaia back to sleep in the living room as she screams bloody murder for ten minutes. Hear the guest bathroom door close as my Dad awakens from the mania and tries to find a safe haven. Tote Indigo along with me to the living room, where Jason and I lull both girls back to sleep on the living room mattress. Place Kaia in her crib, which has been moved into our bedroom. Fall into sweet slumber with my family minus one in the living room. Awaken in minutes to my Dad foraging through the darkness donning his pressed American Airlines captain’s uniform. It’s about 1:30 am.

“What are you doing, Dad?”

“I’m going home, honey. I don’t want to intrude. You guys need your rest”.

Cry on the leather shoulder of his jacket in our foyer. Lots of “I’m sorrys” and “I feel bad”, and “I’ll stay if you wants” and “I don’t want you to gos”.

Relent and release my Dad into the brisk desert night to catch a flight four hours later.

Stumble, blubber, and then wilt into dreamland with Indigo on the living room mattress. Jason retreats to our empty bed where the real estate is a bit more expansive at that moment.


This drama was a repeat performance from the first night my dad arrived. I don’t blame him for feeling overwhelmed, suffocated, anxious, or just plain done with the whole thing, with bunking in a certifiable nut house. We need a soundproof guest room. Or muzzles for our children.

Truth is, Kaia has been waking up in a fury most nights for the past month. The exhausting ritual of juggling the nighttime needs of both girls is wearing on my body and my nerves. I want space. I want sleep. I want to be horizontal for 8 hours. I don’t want to share my blankies and pillow anymore.

And then resentment begins to rise in my body like the smoke from burning incense; twisting and turning and dissipating and clumping. A spark flies, a fire begins to roar in my belly, and I lose my temper with Kaia too soon, too often. She feels like an iron rod, prodding and poking the kindle. How is it that I can feel taunted by a 2 ½ year old? To temper the flames, I cling to the sweetness of Indigo, letting her quiet trust and stillness wash over me.


The Sun Magazine arrives on my bar counter and the first article I open to is Sparrow’s “You are an Awful Parent”. Between words and paragraphs, I cackle and cry. I’m pretty sure he’s not talking about the kind of awful that inspires reverential awe in our children. No. He’s talking about the kind of awful that perches its oiled black feathers on my shoulder and pecks away at my flesh, leaving holes and scars and pocked reminders of my failures (imagined or real).

I endeavor to bandage these marks with acts of love; moments of elongated and hushed story time an hour past bedtime, the allowance of creative play that turns into entire-home destruction, the bonding of baking together while eating chocolate chips from the batter. While hot tea swirls in my mouth, I wonder if this warped sense of “parenthood accounting” really balances out appropriately in the end. I fear my year-end statement will show overdrawn, my books covered in white out to try and hide the line items that don’t quite match up. More liabilities here than assets there. Who would want to invest in me?

“Must make more deposits into the love bank”, I tell myself sarcastically. I want to believe I’ll do it but fear the mighty bird of prey once again.


“Once you make peace with your anger, you can harness its energy and use it creatively.”

Scott Noelle’s wise words pop up daily in my email inbox and always happen to be exactly what I need in that moment. Like a creamy bowl of soup on the rainiest of days.

A three-part series on transforming anger? Honestly, it made me kind of angry just thinking I’d have to wait three days to read the whole series. But his words are a damper, placing their gentle hands on my face and whispering “You have time. You can stop. There is power in surrender. Exhale it all. You are doing A-OK”.

So today, I will sing a shrill “Noooo, Kaia, please don’t push your baby sister to the floor!!!” operatic style at the top of my lungs. Today, I will go all old skool on her ass and bust-a-rhyme about how throwing food and plates on the floor is rude and wasteful.

Today, I will transform my anger creatively into song. I may even dance a jig or go all out and swing my hair in metal/moshing mode.

I wish I could tell you I was excited. At this point, hope is all I have left. And a dash of humor.

If all else fails, tomorrow I’ll start the day off with a mimosa.

Things could get very interesting around here.


p.s.  Dad, I love you.



20 Comments Add yours

  1. clmama says:

    Oh Leigh, this post – this sings to me. Your words are expository and poetic. You could publish this piece. (Have you ever written a column? You should.) I don’t know how to soothe your sould, admittedly. We all have our parenting-deamons, the black crow on our backs. Mine isn’t sleep, but that’s a tough one – woah is it – because we certainly don’t have 8-hour long stretches due to babies under the age of 1 who eat often in the eve. Sleeplessness makes everything in the day raw and gray, I tell you. I didn’t get a great night’s sleep last night, and today, I was biting by the first bit of attitude dumped on me by 7:30 am, (thank you, 4-year old).

    We all have these struggles, overlapping and regular, and all we can do is work to get better at what we struggle with – and we will – but it takes a lot to get there at times. Life, forever, will be two steps forward, one back, I think. Mimosa for breakfast sounds like a step in the right direction, *wink*. Hugs –

    (This scene was particularly hard, with you having to juggle your dad in all this. I would so be there, between the tug-and-pull of guilt and exhaustion and bubbling-over emotion. XO)

  2. Doulala says:

    Oh Sista, I feel you!
    A few years ago when I had 4 kids ages 4 and under, I was you. Hell, I still am you!
    Remember, we do the best we can with what we have available. We will never be perfect parents but doing our best always balances out in the end. I would invest in you. 😉
    Love you!

  3. Chelsea says:

    Ahh, soul sister – once again our lives of motherhood are running parallel to each other. I have been too often playing the role of angry sleep-deprived mommy, dealing badly with toddler attitude, feeling like I-can’t-take-one-more-minute-of-this-or-I-will-surely-die… I too, try to do my best to make up for the not-so-good mommy times, and I know (hope?) that the kids will remember the good times far more than they will remember the short-tempered mommy times…
    one of these days we WILL get a decent night’s sleep again, I just hope it is sooner rather than later…

  4. Dad says:

    And……I love you.


  5. Jane says:

    Can I invest in you? I’d invest a lot. Some hugs, chocolate, and maybe some alcohol? Definitely belief that you are a wonderful mother.

  6. Jena Strong says:

    Leigh – this is such great writing. And great parenting. Imagine what anger, which you describe so viscerally, becomes in the body of someone who isn’t turning it into song, isn’t writing on a blog, checking in, slowing down? I know I have that in me.

    What really got me was you feeling taunted by your toddler and taking refuge in the baby. This dynamic was the hardest thing about having a second – and even though my second is now almost two, I still sometimes want her all to myself and have to reach a little deeper to tap back into that easy love for the first one. Then I do, and there it is.

    Your Dad’s comment made me teary.

    xo Jena

  7. Kate says:

    I love you sister! And I want you to know that I think you’re a great mom… and sister!
    🙂 Kate

  8. Jena Strong says:

    P.S. I linked to this post tonight. Thank you.

  9. Lillithmama says:

    Hi Leigh, found you through Jena…

    Man oh man can I relate to this post…and I’ve only got one toddler!

    Oh the guilt eats at my resolve to change minute by minute how my anger/resentment whips out of my mouth. I don’t trust that I will not turn into a raging monsters…I’m not sure which is worse…which frightens me more…which feels more suffocating, the anger or the guilt of being angry at her, him, them.

    Today, I spent an equal balance of anger, guilt, tears, hopelessness. If I didn’t knwo better I’d say I have post-partum depression, but I don’t, so I don’t know what to call this or what to blame it on. Look, I even made my comment about me…sheesh…

    You write beautifully Leigh…I’m going to come…

    peace from my heart to your heart,

  10. Lillithmama says:

    pss. OMG, I meant to write “I’m going to come back”! Not I’m going to come….ok, now I’m completely embarrased and understand if you ban me from your site forever!!

  11. Incompetent Homemaker says:

    Leigh, you are a wise mama. Remember, after they grow out of these phases of alternating tantrums and hilarity, we remember the best parts and forget the worst. Children who are secure in the knowledge of their parents’ love and devotion may test those qualities to no end, yet they take that trust in you with them as they grow.

  12. Heather says:

    Oh, honey. Hugs, hugs, and more hugs.

    I have been feeling taunted by an almost one-year old, so I sympathize. I have yelled at someone who doesn’t even understand what the hell I’m talking about. It’s so hard to keep your cool when you’re overtired. But you are a GOOD MOTHER. In fact, you are a GREAT mother.

    “While hot tea swirls in my mouth, I wonder if this warped sense of “parenthood accounting” really balances out appropriately in the end. I fear my year-end statement will show overdrawn, my books covered in white out to try and hide the line items that don’t quite match up.”

    You are so far in the black and so far away from overdrawn, you don’t need to invest in any cosmic whiteout. Your girls are lucky to have you for their mother. I’m lucky to have you for my friend. You are human. You are entitled to emotions. You are entitled to feel overwhelmed and to show your anger now and then. And you are still a good mama.

    Hugs, hugs, and more and more hugs.

  13. Ninotchka says:

    Brilliant. I love you and believe me, I’ve been there. And some days, I still am!

  14. marybeth says:

    Hi. I love you. I believe in you. You are not alone. Your children are exactly where they need to be. So are you. That;s all i have time to say except you are brilliantly creative and i know that this power in you is bigger than any anger.
    hard to type with newborn.

  15. I saw this post as you published it, and was away all weekend and have only had the chance to comment now… to say thank you, again. I feel exactly the same way at this point.

    I’m also feeling tapped, like you.. with these ages. The clean, yummy, pliable baby versus the demanding, perplexing, adorable but challenging toddler. Barking and growling so much I’m ashamed.. sleep-deprived.. and suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to just be selfish for a day or two, to have my body back, to have alone-time.

    And thanks to your words I feel a little less guilty for feeling this way. I love your company.


  16. Bobbi says:

    I keep coming back to this post, if nothing else but to remind me that I’m not alone in feeling this way.

    Thanks for that – it helps.

    For what it’s worth, you are a great mama. But I understand, oh how I understand, exactly where you are right now.

  17. isabel says:

    been here to read this a couple of times.
    just keep coming back.
    there is something about your honesty that is raw and open, yet refuses to become cynical, that truly moves me.
    I’ve been there.
    I am there a lot, depending on the day, the mood, where Leo happens to be.
    I know it is hard.
    And I know you are enough, even when you are a “a mess”.
    Sing it out, dance it out, step away and scream it out if needed, and then know you are home.
    i love you.

  18. Lyon Mom says:

    I love this piece. Raw. Poetic. Courageous. Loving. I bet the writing heals more than the mimosa would. You are in good company.

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