When I first had children, my sister couldn’t believe how much patience I developed—for everything. How easily I rolled with the punches. My then toddler and baby. My mother’s critiques of my parenting style. My marriage. The craziness of my life, the juggle. It wasn’t characteristic of the sometimes tightly-wound sister she always knew.
And it was no coincidence. I worked very hard for it in the name of my children. To model good parenting. To raise emotionally healthy kids. To maintain a good marriage.
But, in the last few months, the impatient, edgy me has returned. And I am not particularly fond of this person. She’s kinda harsh. Yet, I just. Can’t. Seem. To quell this tendency.
It stems, in part, from worry they are spoiled when they take it for granted I will bring them yummy snacks after school and they forget to say “thanks, mom.” And when my little guy can only seem to focus on what material good he wants next. I get frustrated when I have to break up fights over candy. I feel hurt and exhausted when I prepare a new dinner I’m sure they will like and they wrinkle their noses and sigh.
They spend too much time obsessing about mind-numbing electronics. So, I police their screen time and say no to cell phones (they read, mean mom). My daughter still lacks good sleep habits, a niggling remnant of bedtime parenting that lacked discipline. He still sucks his thumb and blames me for the oral fixation (since I taught him to suck his thumb as a replacement for sucking my stomach). I inadvertently hurt her feelings when I suggest she brush her hair and change her clothes; not knowing every detail of her presentation is intentional.
Clearly, I am off kilter. And mothering has become a bit more complex with age (theirs and mine). Sure, my kids have their imperfections and require proper discipline and guidance, but I nonetheless long to find more complacency in a given day. I want patience to seep back into me like the warm, steamy air of a sauna.
After all, he is adventuresome, sharp and affectionate. She is beautiful, strong and, in some ways, considerably smarter than her elders. They aim high and work hard, snuggle, read to each other, talk late into the night. They make music, create art, have great friends and relish quiet, unstructured time. They make us proud.
It’s a lot easier on the psyche to focus on the positive, to lighten the load and cast off impatience like a snake shedding its skin. To let some things roll off the back. To realize I probably don’t need to worry quite so much. To trust. To keep it in perspective. To be grateful for what is good and plenty each and every day.
Now, if I can just find that patient, uncharacteristic side of me…