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When Moms Attack: The (Questionable) Science Behind Why We Snap

I declined the tacoLionss. This was my husband’s first clue a storm was a’brewing in his wife’s brain. There was nowhere for him to flee. He was trapped in the drive-through and said wife’s head rested dramatically against the window. He couldn’t see the tears, but he knew they were flowing from the obvious shake and shudder of her defeated shoulders. 

Sound familiar? Those moments of temporary insanity we experience as moms cross all borders of country, race, and religion.

MGB is the technical term for such a phenomenon: “Mama Gone ByeBye!” (It is imperative you pronounce this with a Southern accent. Trust me.) It occurs when just the right combination of stress or agitation reaches peak level, and one occurrence then pushes the victim (yes, victim) right over the freaking edge. MGB can originate from about as many different scenarios as there are obstacles a mom faces any given day. The usual suspects might include lack of sleep, colic, potty training, two year olds, picky eaters, all things “Frozen,” and mornings that begin before 7:00 a.m. The frustrations encountered could be something more serious like financial worries, a sick child, or marital struggles. Moms are a tough breed, but our brains begin to tweak just a bit when we encounter a little too much of any one aforementioned item. Finally, an outside irritant, typically an unsuspecting person, pulls the pin from our grenade. Kerosene is thrown on the fire. The bull is freed from the pen. The victim has taken as much as she can possibly handle, and she lashes out. MGB varies from mom to mom, as all women are gloriously different. Some merely cry; some scream profanities in their car; all reactions are relatively terrifying for those in close proximity to the victim.

Studies have shown husbands are most likely to step into the wake of an MGB attack. Rewind to the set-up for my own personal moment of crazy. Post-Christmas, my husband was notified that his company was shutting down. No company equals no job. It is safe to assume a lack of income counts as a source of stress for a mom. A big one. In addition to this startling information, my children were experiencing a bit of Christmas hangover. They had been over-sugared and under-disciplined. School was back in session and dinner-time was full of tears, sass, and mayhem night after night. My brain was effectively shutting down from worry and whine. I kept a smile plastered to my face in public, but hysteria hovered just below the surface. It wasn’t long beforeMama Gone ByeByewas unleashed in all its fury. 

While attending church a few days later, I was greeted by friends I hadn’t seen over the holidays. Over and over, I was asked, “How was your Christmas?” much to my dismay. Each time the question was asked, my smile grew tighter and my voice rose an octave. (These are classic symptoms that can successfully predict an impending MGB attack.) “Oh Christmas was awesome. Just awesome. Thanks!” We currently have no source of income. How was your Christmas? How are the folks? Somewhere birds were flying into glass doors and dogs growled quietly at the approaching storm.

As I retrieved my children from their respective classes, one teacher casually mentioned, “This one was a little wound-up today.” Tick . . . tick . . . BOOM. The pin had been pulled. Danger! Danger! Through gritted teeth, I reminded the teacher of the cold weather that had prevented my children from playing outside and exhausting their energy levels. The following events occurred as an out-of-body experience. I saw myself weeping in the car and dissecting the words “wound-up.” I watched as I refused tacos for lunch and then demanded my husband find his civic conscious and get more involved with our area’s youth. (What?! Exactly. There are no rules and hardly any logic when MGB kicks in.) I shook my head sadly as MGB-me stormed off to my bedroom and shot an angry text to the director about how incredibly hurtful the phrase “wound-up” could be to a parent. More tearful shouting at my husband, followed so quickly by apologies that he suffered whiplash. The episode was brought to an end by a disturbing number of cookies eaten and finally passing out for an afternoon nap. 

The days following my historic “Mamma Gone ByeBye” event set my mind back into right thinking. I repented to my husband and assured him the youth of America didn’t need his immediate attention. I sent a follow-up text to the director. Please forgive me and disregard what you previously read from me. Wipe it from your memory. I’ve been a little . . . edgy . . . lately. Lots on my mind. Please don’t say anything to my kid’s teacher. Actually, give her a certificate for honorable service to the children. Let’s have a reception to celebrate her hard work and accomplishments. It’s all about the children, amIright?

Science labThere are plenty of studies that prove exercises in deep breathing, meditation, or counting to be an effective method for handling mounting stress. Some researchers suggest walks or spending time with animals. While these activities can provide momentary relief, a true MGB episode can and, unfortunately, will be experienced by a mother in her parenting years. Little can be done to prevent an episode when the right factors have been put into place. Scientifically speaking, the mother’s brain is wired to snap. Count on it. 

What can you do when you find yourself on the other side of MGB and wonder exactly how much crazy you’ve spewed on the world? The experts tell us the best medicine is laughter. Share your embarrassment with a trusted friend. The best results are found when the friend is a fellow mother and can totally get behind that particular level of cuckoo. Another mother, especially one who has experienced an MGB attack, will not judge.

Studies show the greatest road to healing lies in the words, “Me, too, girl. Let me tell you my story.”

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2 Responses to When Moms Attack: The (Questionable) Science Behind Why We Snap

  1. Karissa March 8, 2017 at 9:06 am #

    Just experienced this very thing this weekend. So good to know we are not alone! Love you!

  2. Ashley Qualley
    Ashley Qualley March 8, 2017 at 4:54 pm #

    Oh friend! You are NOT alone! We may not all share, but you can look into any mom’s eyes and see the crazy lurking just below the surface! May our tribe always be just a bit looney. Life is far more funny that way! ❤️

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