Thursday, June 6, 2013

Patience is a Virtue (or so I've been told...)

Breathe in.  Breathe out.

Find your happy place.  


Oh, I'm sorry!  I didn't see you there.  I was just in the middle of trying to not completely lose my mind.  Or my temper.  Because I've already lost my patience for the day, and I really hope I can find it before dinner time rolls around.

I don't know about you, but I've been struggling a lot lately with being patient.  I wake up every morning thinking "This is it.  This is the day.  Today is going to be different.  I am making a choice to be patient."

And then my kids wake up.

And while I'm still talking myself into a lovely little patience-induced coma, somehow the living room is already trashed, I've made them breakfast which they've only picked at, my formerly somewhat picked up kitchen is now just a pile of dirty dishes, crumbs and half-open boxes of toaster waffles and yogurt containers, and my children have found some earth-shattering, life-changing issue to argue about.  Like who got the yellow cup.  Or whose feet are touching whose chair.  I'm talking serious dilemmas here, people.

Needless to say, I've been feeling like I need a little help to replenish the ol' patience supply here.

Can I Get a Vitamin for That?
I'm all about those lovely prenatal vitamins you choke down during your pregnancy.  (I mean, sure, I felt like I was burping vitamin breath for 3 hours after I took them, but my hair and nails have never grown so much in all my life.)  Prenatal vitamins work wonders and give that little tiny baby growing in your belly everything he or she needs, and help Moms out with all that nutrient business, too.  But what about after that sweet little bundle arrives?  Don't Moms still need, no deserve, some continued help?

I propose this:  Postnatal vitamins.

You would begin taking these postnatal vitamins as soon as Baby arrives, and well, for the rest of your life.  They would continue to make your hair and nails grow at an astonishing rate, but that's not all.  They would (get ready for may want to sit down...) grow your ability to be patient by leaps and bounds.  

You would also be able to sign up for a booster pack when each of your children turn 3, and then again when they turn 13.  And again at 23, as needed, if they move back home.  

Just a thought.  Anyone out there with me?

Real, Not Perfect
I don't mean this post to be a huge "whine fest."  Really, I don't.  (OK, it may contain a little venting.  Which is a second cousin to whining.  Dangerous, I know.)  I simply want it to be real.  And this is where I've been this week, struggling with being patient.  I love my children dearly.  That has never been in question for even a second.  I love them beyond measure, and cherish the minutes and hours and days I have with them.  

But sometimes, if I have to ask them one more time to put their shoes on or explain why they need to pick up the pain-inducing Legos spread across their bedrooms, I feel like I'm going to lose my mind.  

I'm learning it's not just one thing that sucks up all my patience.  It's all the little tiny things that each chip away at my patience little by little, bit by bit, day after day, until poof!, my son dumps an entire container of season salt on his zucchini after I've told him we need to do it together and it's like my world is ending in that moment.  Oh no!  Not the precious $3.95 bottle of season salt or 4 bites of zucchini that have been ruined! Whatever shall we do!  There is clearly no coming back from this catastrophe.  

In these moments (well, it's usually after these moments) I have to remind myself of a few things.  

I am not perfect.  I am human.  

My kids are not perfect.  They are human.  

While I am certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, our family is not perfect, I am also certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, of this: We are real.  And honestly, I wouldn't want it any other way.  I don't want to waste precious time with them trying for any of us to be "perfect."  I would so much rather soak up the time we have with each other, all the while being real and imperfect and learning how to do life together.

And sometimes being real means acknowledging when my patience is running low.

So yes, sometimes I find myself apologizing to my kids for using "strong words" (raising my voice).  And yes, sometimes I find myself having to share my feelings about why I felt upset or frustrated when I've asked them for the fifth time to brush their teeth and haven't gotten so much as a response, let alone anything that resembles toothbrushing.  And yes, sometimes we all need to go to our rooms for a little extra quiet time, Mom included, so we can take a second to calm down.

I am not perfect.  I am human.

My kids are not perfect.  They are human.

My hope is that from all my imperfection, they are learning it is OK to be real, to be human themselves.  I hope they are learning how important it is to share how they feel, to apologize, and to make things right when they've done something they wish they hadn't.  

Not Everything You See and Hear is "Real"
All around us, we see images on diapers boxes of Moms of newborns peacefully holding their sleeping child, all the while looking radiant and glowing and well-rested, for crying out loud.  We see commercials with toddlers smiling and laughing while reading books and playing soccer with their smiling and laughing parents.  We see Pinterest posts about school age kids happily baking organic muffins or making their own clothes or building something out of pallets with Mom or Dad by their side.  We see Facebook posts about all the amazing things parents are doing with their amazing kids, and it's like you can just feel the patience and "perfectness" oozing out of them.  

It's not to say that these things aren't wonderful and aren't part of parenting, because they are.  They do exist every now and again and we should enjoy and celebrate them when they happen for us.  

But that's not the day in, day out part of parenting.  That's not the "real" part of parenting we come up against in our most difficult moments.  There are parts of parenting when we struggle to be patient.  When we try to dig into our patience reserves, but find them empty.  When we need to take a step back or lean on others to help us get through a day, an hour, a moment.

I guess all this rambling just to say this...if you find yourself taking lots of deep breaths or trying to find your happy place or counting backward from 100, know you are not alone.  Don't beat yourself up if you've been "human" in any given situation; if you've reacted differently than your "this is exactly how I'm going to parent" before-you-actually-had-kids-self had planned out how you would react.  

Be kind to yourself.  Extend grace to yourself.  If you need to, make amends with whoever you need to, even if that means making amends with your kids.  It doesn't make you any less of a parent.  It makes you more of one.  

Whether it is a day filled with an abundance of patience, or you feel like you're running on your last ounce of patience, You Are a Good Mom.  Hang in there.  Tomorrow is a new day.  You will get another chance to wake up and say "Today, I will be patient."  You will get another chance to make it happen.  And who knows?  The FDA may be close to approving that postnatal vitamin any day now.  


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