Please Grant Me Patience
I am not perfect. I am just human; something that I have to constantly remind myself of. Sometimes I forget though, and will tearfully admit to one of my friends that I snapped at my toddler or got frustrated with my baby because he slept amazing one night and then wanted nothing to do with sleep the next night. There are days when I wonder why I am rushing my little girl as she is just trying to put her shoes on by herself. What could possibly be that important that I need to rush her as she is trying to learn and exert some independence? Once I caught myself, I paused what I was saying about being late for a play date and just watched her. It took her a few times, but she kept glancing up at me and would say “I can do it Mama!” and would try again. When she succeeded, she was SO proud of herself, exclaiming “I did it!” and smiling from ear to ear. I was bursting with pride too. It is times like that moment, where I am reminded that THIS is what life is about.
It is so easy for me to get wrapped up in the small details. Now that my toddler will be turning 3 soon, I notice that she is very perceptive of what kind of mood I am in. If I’m stressed out because we are running super later to a doctor’s appointment, she’ll say “It’s ok mom. Here, take a breath!” and offer me her little outstretched hand like I can physically take a calming breath from her. The mom guilt sure kicks in then! I need to remind myself of her age when she grabs the tape and proceeds to yank out a 3 foot long piece. My instinct for something like this has been to lightly scold her for wasting tape or making a mess, but lately I am trying to explain that I can help her. The thing is, she’s totally in that “I can do it, Mama” stage. So I am currently in the debate of “Do I stand back and watch as she unravels a TON of tape?” Or do I snap and say “You’re wasting tape! Ask me for help please”. I’m aiming to go somewhere in the middle and say “You ARE doing it by yourself! Just a little bit though, we don’t want to waste it!”. Balancing act.
This whole thing may sound pretty silly to some people, but I read a quote recently that said: “As parents, we become our child’s inner voice”. And I don’t want my children to have a negative or scolding inner voice. I want them to be confident. I want them to feel loved and supported. I want them to be encouraged to explore and learn and go outside of their comfort zones. And that’s not to say that I won’t scold them. Obviously as a mother, I will always be their mother first and their friend second. It is up to me to be the rule enforcer. The manners enforcer. The safety enforcer. But it is also up to me to have patience with them and understanding that they are simply acting their age.
The other night, my daughter woke up at 2am with a nightmare. My husband tried comforting her. I tried comforting her. She was terrified and just would not go back to sleep. And so ensued a night full of tears from the 3 out of 4 of our family members. The whole family was up the rest of the night and only our baby fell back asleep. I hate to admit, but I was SO frustrated. I kept thinking “This is so unfair! I’m already waking up at night every 2-3 hours to breastfeed my baby back to sleep. She is a big girl, why does this need to be added on too?” But that thought was fleeting as soon as she curled up next to me and said “Mama, I scared”. Because then it hit me with full force. She is still SO very little. She needs me after a scary nightmare just as much as my baby needs me when he wakes up hungry and wanting to breastfeed. Truth be told, just the other night I personally had a nightmare that was so awful I woke my husband up just to tell him about it and to feel safe and reassured.
So when my toddler wants to help me crack the eggs while I make breakfast, I’m going to refrain from cringing at any shells that make it into the bowl. It will only take a few seconds to scoop them out; and in my opinion, the prideful and happy look on her face far outweighs anything else. When my baby wakes for the 89th time in a night (not really that many times, but it sometimes feels that way!) I will try to remember that this is only for a season, and that when I am an old lady I will fondly remember the feel of a tiny warm body snuggled up against me as I nursed my little baby back to sleep. So for now I will just add to my prayers and ask God to please grant me patience. Patience with my children. Patience with my husband. And patience for myself. It is so easy to be hard on ourselves, as mothers. We are all just doing the very best that we can.