Sunday, March 30, 2008

Patience

When I am out of milk, I go to the supermarket. When I am out of diapers, I go to costco. When I am out of patience, I lose my temper.

Needless to say, I wish there were a patience depot - a place where I can load up on what I believe to be one of my most valuable tools as a parent.

Lately, I am finding that my patience supply seems to be depleting rapidly. And I want to do something about it.

I didn't always have this problem. For the first three years of my son's life - when he would often have upwards of 15 tantrums daily, I somehow managed to have, in my humble opinion, extraordinary patience. But now that the tantrums have substantially decreased, I have a much lower tolerance for the whining, and the defiance, and the other difficult 3-year old behaviors. Sometimes I just feel burnt out - like I put so much energy into being patient when it was really tough - that now that it is easier, I just don't have the energy anymore.

This is not good. I am really, God willing, only at the very beginning of my parenting journey. I am in this for the long haul, and I need to stop sprinting and become a long distance runner.

I am also a believer in the slippery slope of bad parenting. Once I allow myself to raise my voice once, even ever so slightly, it becomes that much easier to do it the next time.

I see parenting as the ultimate zen challenge. If I can be calm and focused and patient when my child has been whining all day, I know I am on my way to being a zen master.

Right now it just feels good to define the problem. The solutions elude me at the moment. I have a feeling, though, that prayer might help. I desperately want my patient self back, and I want to talk to God about how I can get there.

4 comments:

Maya said...

Wow--I was just thinking about this last week. My little sleepless one has just started sleeping slightly better, and my life is slightly easier, but I've been losing patience more and more. My best guess is that when you're in crisis mode, you don't think about yourself and don't try to do anything else but deal. But when you can finally start engaging just a little bit in non-baby activities, you get caught up and then it's more of a drag on your patience to be interrupted all the time.

I wish there was a patience store!

Ima Shalom said...

Yeah it can be so hard. When I feel like I'm slipping I try really hard at that moment to put myself in his shoes. It's got to be so frustrating to be a little kid. So much will, so little control. Hmmm...and then there's the times, like grocery store meltdowns, when I just kind of stare at him blankly (not so much a parenting strategy as parenting utter confusion).

mamamia said...

Thanks Maya and Ima Shalom!

Abbi said...

I hear you. Sometimes I have infinite patience with my 2 and 4 year old and sometimes I have none.

I think it's good to recognize and try to improve the times when patience eludes us, but I also think it's good to give ourselves a break. We're human. It's good for our kids to see us as regular humans. I don't think it's possible for us to be perfect Zen monks all the time, with endless stores of patience. My kids have seen me cry, get angry, annoyed with them, myself or my husband. But they have also seen me deal with negative feelings, recover and move on. I think those are also valuable lessons for kids.