BY ALICIA DONOVAN
I don’t have patience. Yes, I just learned this. I thought I had it. I can be 6 cars back in the drive-through waiting for my over priced coffee and not freak out. That takes a ton a patience, right? Well apparently I suck at it and don’t have any at all. Because after honking the horn a thousand times and throwing my arms up in the air my son said “Mom, be patient.” But the final straw was him telling me. “MOM, please be patient with me, I’m only 7.” Oh, my god. Tear out my heart. He is so reasonable and calm and in control and so damn patient. Where did this come from and how do I get some for myself. The old saying patience is a virtue. I don’t have that virtue. Why can’t the saying be different? Organization is a virtue. Sacrifice is a virtue. There is a list of others I could conquer. Patience isn’t one of them. Lucky for me, my son has enough for both of us.
When my boys were little I tried hard to play the patient card, but I folded so many times. I just couldn’t do it. Needy, clingy toddlers plus sleep deprived SAHM mom equals a blow up of patience and a reason to uncork the Pinot. It’s not pretty. But it’s the truth … and one I didn’t accept.
Why do we as moms have to feel the need to succeed and be patient at every single stage of parenthood? We can’t. We just can’t be “on” all the time. But the mom guilt always sets in. And our irritability sky rockets. We think we should be patient. We should love and thrive off every single thing our kids do and the questions they ask. All the why’s. “Mom, why is paper made from wood?” “Why do birds sing?” “Why is spaghetti so noodley?” Really, noodley, that isn’t even a word! I don’t (really bad slang term) know. And pretty soon trying to explain why that mom at Target is crying in the corner while her kids are opening Swiss Cakes boxes and drinking out of the milk cartoon is JUST too much. You SNAP and run to that mom in the corner crying (grabbing your own swiss cake box on the way). I don’t have all the answers. And I don’t have the patience to find them.
This parenting business does not come naturally. Sorry to say. But it is ridiculously hard. I look at all the wonderful school teachers out there. How do they do it? They get a metal the size of Texas with bold letters. Patience is MY virtue. Seriously, they are amazing. But the more I thought about it, I justified their patience by thinking this: they get to choose what age and stage best fits them. Ms. Katie, she’s best with toddlers. Mrs. Murray she’s best with third-graders. Mr. Simon, bring on the seniors. As a parent we don’t get a choice. We get it all. Prenatal, newborns, babies, toddlers, preschoolers, OMG stop! No wonder we are buckling under pressure. Open the flood gates and drown us now.
Just because we are the reason for their existence doesn’t automatically give us the mother lode of patience. Nor does it take into account that we too have lives, wants and needs. Bills to pay, clothes to wash, toilets to scrub, friends to drink with. This notion that we are supposed to have endless patience and love every one of their isms is a cornucopia of B.S.
So I say, fill up your own cup first.
Raise your glass to doing the best you can.
And always remember that the patience gene must’ve skipped a generation.