A few years ago, a friend told me a story about this woman out west who started a business after her husband cheated on her, then divorced her and left her broke. She was pissed off and who would blame her? She needed to vent in a rage-fueled, physical kind of way so she created this rental space where people can go to exorcise their frustrations. You could apparently rent safety goggles, gloves, and a sledgehammer, I was told, and then you got like an hour in a space where you could literally smash the bejesus out of stuff. I think of this story every time I rage clean my house. But recently, I discovered rage gardening and I am sure it feels exactly like being in that rental space.
Trying rage gardening for the first time felt a lot like how I imagine those newly divorced women out west must feel as they smash vases and put holes in walls. Rage cleaning has been my go-to ever since becoming a mother. The house gets absolutely trashed by my kids and I get so flustered by trying to keep up that I eventually explode into a whirling dervish of mops and vacuums all while blasting music and feeling relieved that I booted my family out for an afternoon. The house gets cleaned and stays that way until the kids come home and immediately go about destroying it again.
But rage gardening? This is a full-contact sport. There is something exceedingly therapeutic about stabbing the ground with a pitchfork while the sun beats down on my sweaty brow. Dirt gets everywhere. Rocks and weeds go flying. Sweat drips, soaking my shirt. I might even earn a blister.
Working outside with my hands means taking in deep breaths of fresh air. My blood gets pumping, which I am absolutely sure means that I am burning calories. Physically exerting myself outside feels like I am connecting with my own body while also straight up exhausting myself.
The earth and sun must have some magical mojo that can cure a bad mood. I spent hours turning over sod with a pitchfork until my shoulders burned. I ripped out weeds while hunched over on my hands and knees. I sprayed my face and filthy feet with the garden hose and felt more alive than I have in years.
By the time I was finished cleaving a new path toward calm, I could see the fruit of my labor in front of me; a lovely small patch of earth with rows of new seed and small neat piles of rocks. It felt like the best immediate form of therapy and exhausted me both physically and emotionally.
I don’t know if that little rental space out west still exists, but I know that mental and emotional space that spurred its inception. Motherhood is damn hard and when there is no time left in a day for self-care, feelings of frustration and even resentment can build up. Every mom deserves to find that one thing that makes her happy, calms her down, and centers her energy in a healthy way. For me, this means hardcore physical movement that goes beyond an elliptical machine and a laundry basket. I need to work until I sweat out my bad vibes. Because THAT makes me a happy mom.