Sunday, December 15, 2013

Patience as a Parent

There is a self-employed mother sitting at her computer, trying to send out an important email to a client  who's waiting for her on the other side of the screen.

"Mommy," a child says as she walks into the room with her stuffed animal. It's missing a leg and the stuffing is falling out. "Mr. Dumdum has a booboo. Can you fix it?"

The mother looks down to her little girl and nods, saying, "just a minute, Honey. I need to finish this."

The girl furrows her brow and turns away, holding "Mr. Dumdum" closer to her as she walks away.

Two minutes later, she returns.

"Mommy," she starts again. "I'm hungry."

The mother looks up at the clock, realizing that she'd forgotten about lunch. But she needs to get the report to the client immediately. "Oh, Honey," she says. "Just give me a few more minutes and I'll make you some PB&J. Just let me finish real quick here."

With a nod, the little girl walks away only to return in another minute.


The mother's patience is wearing thin as she tries to focus on the report and replies to her daughter with a half-attentive, "hm?"

"Can I have some water?"

The mother takes a deep breath and points to the cupboard. "You know where the cups are, honey. Go get one yourself." The tone of her voice is harsh and the little girl wonders what she's done wrong.

Placing "Mr. Dumdum" ever so carefully on the floor beside the counter, the little girl pulls up a chair and climbs up. She sees her Cinderella cup on the middle shelf and takes it with a smile. As she kneels to get off of the counter, her foot sleeps on the edge, and she falls to the ground with a resounding crack as she hits her head on the ground.

The mother jumps from her seat and picks up her little girl whose face is streamed in tears. A goose egg almost immediately forms. Within the next few moments, the little girls shows signs of a concussion and the mother decides it's best to take her to the hospital to get it checked.

The girls is in pain. The mother is angry at herself for not just taking the fifteen seconds to get the cup of water for her little girl. The report was never sent until late that night but thank God the little girl was all right in the end.


Ah, patience.
As parents, it's something we can all use a bit more of but with children, it's a pain to get a hold of…tightly.

In the above story, the report was not sent immediately but it was sent in the end. The point is that it was sent. The little girl's trip to the ER could have been avoided but it was something that forced the mother to realize how such little things could cause her to lose her patience…and in the end, it just wasn't worth it.

The above was just an example but every day there is something that we, as parents, feel needs to be done immediately and that our children could wait until we get it done. When they're little, it seems to them that the smallest things really can't seem to wait. These are things that we need to realize are nothing so important as our little ones who depend on us, grow and then leave us. Will they leave us with memories of a mother/father who took time and had patience for them? Or as parents who always had something else more important to do?

I, myself, struggle in patience myself. There are times throughout the day when it just seems like the worst time for my kids to need or want something.

I finally get to sit with a cup of coffee and they want me to help them brush their hair.
I lay out everything to get dinner ready and they want me to help them find their shoes so they can go outside.
I finally have a moment to lay down and the baby wakes up because the siblings were too loud.

In those moments, I feel like the whole world is going against me. I feel as if I never get a break for any sort of peace and quiet. It's like nothing goes my way and in reality, more often than not, it doesn't. But only after I yell at my kids or start stomping around, slamming things behind me do I realize that these little things are not that big of a deal. Most of these things can really be fixed by time management and the realization that an extra two or three minutes of looking for shoes will not have any real effect on when dinner is ready. Or that brushing hair only takes a couple moments of my time while stomping around or slamming things will be something the kids will remember for the entirety of their lives. (they see these things, people)

I had a few years for my girls to grow up before I decided to bring another two into the world and only when #3 was born did I realize how much time was wasted on pointless frustration and anger at them. They're little ladies now and I feel like in the blink of an eye, they're going to move out…go to college….get married…and I'll be left with only bitter memories of impatience.

I thank God that I realized this now before they do get much older. I'm thankful that I was able to realize that their baby days, so sweet and tiring at the same time, go by so quickly and I can never have them back. Their memories are being made every day and I can choose whether they'll be of a mother who showed how she loves them through daily patience and understanding or of a mother who always put their needs aside for alone time - which does come eventually - or cooking and cleaning or house chores that aren't going anywhere. (seriously. if I don't do them, no one else will so whether I do them now or an hour from now doesn't change much of anything)

We have the power to make our lives easier for us and our family or more difficult. If only we'd all take time to really see that what choices we make in our patience today will forever leave a mark on our lives when our children are gone. That mark can be one of beauty or an ugly scar that brings guilt at every sight of it. This mark will not only affect us as the parents but the children as they grow into adulthood and this mark can be the rising or downfall of their own lives with their own children in the future.

Patience. Who knew such a little thing could be so important.


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