I started a painting project last week, and it is still not finished this week. The pre-kids me would have killed herself for two solid days painting that tiny 12×12 playroom (but it would have been some other room since I was pre-kids), but the “I have 3 kids” me can’t possibly do that.
And, in the midst of starting that project, I also decided to re-organize all the kids’ closets in the house. So, now I’m left with two unfinished projects that taunt me as I walk around my house. You didn’t know inanimate objects could taunt you? Then you must not be a mom with too much going on in her head.
But, I’ve been surprised at the amount of patience I’ve had with this painting project. I knew it would be a long process. I would do a little each day, and now I’m at the end and just ready for it to be done. I haven’t killed myself (aside from the 3 1/2 hours yesterday) too much. I’ve been taking it slow. Disassembly one day. Sanding the next. Priming. A lot of steps go into painting a room.
And that act of patience in that project made me realize that maybe the whole point of parenting is patience. Have you ever looked up the definition of patience? Here it is:
the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
Read that again. I’ll wait.
Think of motherhood. How often do we have to just accept that the toddler goes to bed hungry because he won’t eat? How often do we tolerate delay? Oh, we are MASTERS at tolerating delay. Trouble? I mean, do I even have to say how often there is trouble in parenting? And, suffering? Parenting has quite a bit of suffering if you ask me. Don’t get me wrong, it has joy too, but suffering abounds. The sleep deprivation, the inability to eat warm food, the nights full of sick kids, the sadness when your kid screws up. The heartache when they are sad because of something another cruel kid did. We do suffer by being parents. Suffering goes hand in hand with parenting.
But, do we do it all without getting angry or upset? Not always. That’s the hard part for me. Sometimes, I practice true patience by definition so rarely, that I realize I’ve been barely scratching the surface of learning to be patient.
I’ve had to learn patience in so many ways, they are probably innumerable. But, do I always do it with a happy heart? OK, the definition doesn’t say I have to be happy about it. Just not angry or upset.That’s the point, isn’t it? Learning to do all of it without anger, or even annoyance underneath.
Including suffering. Oh boy.
There are some things I’m better at though. Some things that I just sigh at now instead of feeling annoyed. Sure, I’m not there yet. Not even close. Obviously, I’m not happy when the 2 year old exhibits the same crazy behavior that the other two did at his age, but I sigh now, with more acceptance than I did the last time. So, maybe I’m getting there. Slowly. Methodically, I’m creeping my way towards learning how to be truly patient.
Click here to download the PDF file for printing: Too Often-6
I love that. I want to be patient in all things. I WANT to be that mom. But, I’m not……yet. And, it very well may be a life-long journey to achieve patience in the true sense of the word.
When I look at my kids, I see they are helping me tremendously. They are the ones, that in the end, I will have to thank when I’m and old, gray, very patient woman. Because I WILL be an old, gray, patient woman some day. My kids will help me get there one temper tantrum at a time. But, it’s not their fault. They are learning about the world themselves and trying to figure it all out. But, they are my biggest helpers. For example:
They play with their food when they should be eating it. I have to be patient when dinner takes a painstaking hour to get 3 bites in.
They act silly when I’m trying to teach them a lesson.
They insist on buckling themselves into carseats when they don’t have the dexterity to do so.
They invented crazy town.
They take 20 minutes to do something that would take me 5.
They get sick when it’s inconvenient.
They write with a permanent marker on their new bedspread 2 days after putting it on the bed.
They ignore me when they know I’m trying to get their attention.
They make the same mistakes over and over and over again.
They decide they want to learn to tie their shoes when we are already late for an appointment.
They want to help with the laundry when they don’t even know how to use the potty yet.
They break sleeping patterns just when I start to get a little more sleep.
They wake up and decide one day that they no longer like a meal that I cooked specifically for them.
The list does. not. end.
But, all of that? All of those things that they “do” are just them learning about their world. Learning how to shape, mold, and manipulate the world (mostly me) around them. And, in doing that, they’re teaching me the most important lesson of all. To try to learn acceptance, and toleration and suffer with a happy heart. Or, even with a heart that isn’t annoyed.
That’s one of the reasons that parenting is just as much about me teaching them as they are teaching me.
I’m not going to promise to find joy in every second, but I will promise that at the end of all of this, I at least hope to be proud of the patience I gained through the journey.
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