“You are so patient with your kids.”
Hands down, best thing anyone has ever said to me. And in my opinion, not at all true. I regularly feel like I am teetering on the edge of insanity as I listen to my kids start fighting, (within the first five minutes of being awake), about who gets to sit on which side of me on the couch. However, if I manage to give the impression that I am patient, then I am at least outwardly doing a better job than I think.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I am the world’s worst parent. Most days, I do think I handle discipline, play and education with relative success. But, other days… I want to cry.
Parenting is hard. Anyone who tells you it’s not is either in denial or lying. I expected it to be hard, but there are certain things that are WAY harder than I anticipated. And those are generally the things I have to struggle with every day. The things that make me feel my least patient and effective as a parent.
Meal time for example. There is no such thing as a simple meal with Nora. It doesn’t matter what I give her. It could be her favorite food. If it is not a sweet of some kind it will inevitably take almost an hour to get her to eat. Our meals go like this:
Nora: How many bites do I need to take?
Me: You need to eat the whole thing, it’s not that much.
Nora: But, my belly feels sick.
Me: You shouldn’t say your belly is sick when it’s not. I won’t believe you when it’s true if you lie now.
Nora: But, how many bites?
Me: Just eat.
Nora: What kind of treat can I have?
Me: Take a bite.
Nora: But, my belly is full.
Me: Then we can save this for later, but you aren’t going to get a treat if you don’t eat dinner.
Nora: But, how many bites do I need to eat to get a treat?
Repeat over and over again. Admit it… you are stressed just reading this aren’t you?
Nora also struggles with constipation issues. This existed even before food, so it’s not 100% diet related, but her lack of veggies and fruit definitely doesn’t help matters. I don’t know how parents of truly chronically ill kids do it because it literally hurts my heart every time I have to resort to giving her an enema. I hate hearing her cry and beg me not to, knowing that I can’t apologize for it because it needs to be done.
And then there is Meredith, who is the first of my kid’s to require time out in public. She isn’t that out of control, so it’s not often, but it has happened. And it usually solves whatever behavior problem we were having, so while never fun, it is necessary from time to time.
And the bickering… this is the ultimate in stress producing behavior. If you are one of the lucky ones who has kids that get along, you should be saying prayers of thanks every day. When my two play together nicely, it is super sweet and so incredible to watch. But, 90% of the time, it is constant whining and complaining about who had what toy first, who hit or poked who, and yes, even whose Mommy I am. It’s exhausting. There are definitely days when everyone (including myself) gets sent to their rooms for a mandatory 10 minutes of quiet time. Sometimes, it is the only way everyone survives the day.
So, yes, having someone tell me I am patient with the girls meant a lot to me. As parents, the stressful moments tend to stand out in our days. We relive them and wonder what could have been done better or differently. We gloss over the good moments. That time we managed to explain away their fears or stop tears with a little bit of Mommy magic is forgotten as we struggle to take a deep breath and calmly tell them once again that we need them to eat, listen, or be nice to each other. An observation, especially unprompted, by someone on the outside can mean the world to a parent who is sometimes too enmeshed in the situation to see the good.
So, on my really stressful days, I remind myself that I have the ability to be patient with my children. I may not be successful 100% of the time, but I can do it. Sometimes, simply remembering that goes a long way in winning the battle.