The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious. (Oxford English Dictionary)
I used to think I was a very patient person. I have worked with children, most of my adult life, as a nanny, and then as a paediatric nurse. Both jobs require tremendous amounts of patience, working with children and their families. I thought that when I had my own children, I would be endlessly patient, and gracious and kind.
Of course, having your own children, and being on call 24/7/365 is FAR different from working with children. When you work with children, you get to go home at the end of the day. You hand them off to their parents or the nurse taking over from you, and you leave. When you are a parent, there is no one to take over. When you are dealing with what seems like the fiftieth tantrum of the day, from your toddler, over the most illogical things, or in the middle of the night, when you have got up to deal with a non sleeping child, hour after hour, or when you are desperately trying to get round the supermarket, hoping to get to the checkout with your sanity in tact and not too many items you didn’t plan on purchasing in the trolley, or trying to get to the doctors surgery, or school and your children seem to have a different time frame in mind than you, and of course, theirs means you will be late, patience seems to go out of the window. Who hasn’t wondered if it was acceptable to drop everything and have a screaming, foot stomping tantrum yourself, after you have attempted to get a Houdini like, purple with rage child, into a car seat or pushchair? Are you all with me? Please tell me you are?
Here’s my confession. I am not patient, or at least, what I thought were acceptable levels of patience, clearly aren’t enough for this job, that comes with so little training, no sick leave, no pay, and very little support, when you are actually in the thick of it all.
I want to be less shouty, I want to be calm, serene and cool, when my 4 year old announces at precisely 830am (which is when we have to leave the house, for school) that he needs to do a poo, which I know will take ten minutes, at the minimum (he’s going to kill me when he reads this when he is old enough, sorry kiddo!) or when my 7 year old takes ten minutes to choose a hair bobble or socks, knowing that she has had all the time in the world, but of course these things are done best when Mummy is standing at the bottom of the stairs, with smoke coming out of her ears, because she did actually remind said 7 year old, with plenty of warning of time that we would need to be leaving at a certain point and we are now going to be running late. I want to be more patient.
I sometimes have to take a (very) deep breath, and remind myself that these little people are only little, and that whilst they can learn time management, and that when I say “get ready, now” I mean now, not in 20 minutes, they don’t have a time concept like an adult. I have to learn to think, breathe, control my tone, and try not to yell. I am learning. Parenting is mostly about learning as you go, learning and practising patience, is one of the things I need to do better at. I want to set a better example to my children, to show them how it is possible to be calm, and not so impatient.
I think I get more stressed and impatient, during term time, and when we HAVE to be somewhere. In the school holidays, I definitely don’t feel quite so fraught and impatient.
Sophie over at Franglaise Mummy wrote recently about not being a shouty Mummy. Reading her post struck me, as she talks about things I recognise.
How do you teach yourself to be more patient? Are you one of those calm, seemingly endlessly patient parents, that I wish I was more like or is impatience one of your faults you are working on? I would love to hear your thoughts.