I once read a funny quote that went something like “patience is what you have when there are witnesses.” I don’t remember who to give the credit to for that, but the words made me laugh and then made me reflect – maybe because there was a strong undercurrent of truth to them.
As a mom I tell myself everyday to be patient with my kids. To answer their questions in earnest, to take the time to show them how to do something rather than just do it for them because it is quicker; to let them work out the squabbles amongst themselves without intervening just so they will knock it off faster; and at to deal with all that they need from me throughout the day in stride – without losing my cool.
Most days I start off great in the patience department and there are many days that my kids are respectful and helpful and give me pause to reflect that I seem to be on the right track with this whole parenting thing. Yet then there are those days that despite the fact that I have asked nicely for them to do various simple and appropriate tasks (i.e. make your bed or brush your teeth – of course I am not sure why I have to ask these things each and every day but that can be a whole separate blog) you would think I was either talking to the wall or had asked them to shove hot pokers in their eyes. I repeat my request, and then repeat it again, and again, and again – and well you get the point. However, it is usually by this time I have escalated to that mom who is starting to lose it because I have either been met with the continued sound of crickets or a snotty response.
Or there are the days in which the following conversation will take place….
- One of my kids (usually from at least a room or two away calls out in a loud voice) “Mom?” (also usually is more a yell that goes like, “Mooooooommmmm?”
- Me (stupidly responding loudly from multiple rooms away: “Yes?
- That same child calls out my name again and again, despite the fact I have answered them each time. Ultimately yelling is involved as I find my patience meter being sucked dry. This has prompted the rule ‘You are not allowed to call or yell out my name from another room in this house (unless you are on fire or bleeding to death). You must come into the room I am in to speak with me.’ My rationale is to avoid such situations which drain my patience meter because chances are I will need that patience for other more pressing issues which have yet to have unfold for the day.
Of course, even when they are in the room you are in, and verbalize their request and you answer it, it’s often as if it sails right through their ears and into outer space. For instance, and my middle child is notorious for this, they will ask if they can do something or have something (i.e “Mom can I go out and ride my bike?”) I will answer them. And because they aren’t paying attention (I know that they can hear since I have had their hearing tested.) they will ask their request at least one or two more times. This created the rule, ‘If you aren’t paying attention to my answer you need to figure out what I said – Choose wisely.’
Going out in public with three children is kinda of like playing Russian Roulette because you never know which kids you are going to get – the nice respectful ones you are happy to parade around and claim as your own; or the ones that make you want to run and hide behind a display and pretend like you don’t know. When out in public and I ask something of them and we having one of those less than stellar days where my kids are embodying “those kids” I remind myself to take an extra breath and hold it together. Unless you have been a fly on my shoulder the entire time you will probably have missed my multiple normal voice/normal toned requests. You will have missed my pleads to behave. You will even have missed my stern looks and octave lower warnings. Chances are you – who is anyone else in the public place we are in – will be catching wind of the unfolding drama just about the time my crazy starts to stick out. If you’re a mom you will get it (of course you will probably be thinking “thank God that’s not me today.”) If you’re not a parent, you will probably think I am a mean mother – chances are so are my kids in that moment. Yet regardless, I am just a mom who tried her best and was overcome in that moment, left to wonder what happened to all that patience she told herself to have. Deep breaths – regroup – muddle through.