When I paused for a moment to consider this month’s Twin Cities Mom Collective theme – Mama, you can do hard things – my mental list of “hard things” was long, but there was one word that stood out: patience. Patience is the ability to wait, but to also keep a good attitude while waiting. Practicing patience, especially as a mom, is something I struggle with every day.
Life is busy. Life with kids is immeasurably busier; school, practice, rehearsal, class. I realized I was notoriously in a rush, calculating the precise amount of time it would take us to get where we needed to go. My kids, however, were notoriously dragging their heels as I’d ask them for the tenth time to get their boots on. Once out the door, our daily routine unfolded. As we walked to the car, the kids kicked the snowbanks along the walkway as I’d hiss, “Let’s go!” in my ‘the only reason I’m not yelling is because the neighbors might hear’ tone. They’d slightly pick up the pace to climb into the car, slamming the doors. Finally inside, they did everything and anything except buckle themselves into their carseats. I’d take a deep breath and sing a song about buckling up (to the tune of House of Pain’s “Jump Around”), put the car in drive and start idling forward. They’d protest, “I’m not buckled in yet!” and I’d snap, “it should always be the very first thing you do when you get into the car.” Once everyone was buckled in, I would drive it like I stole it to ensure an on time arrival. This was every single time we left our house. Yes, it was miserable, but I thought it was just parenthood.
Several weeks ago I looked at my kids and wondered, “When did they get so big?” I was brought to tears as I realized it was during my impatience, my resistance to slow down and kick the snowbanks. In our daily routine, as I rushed us out of the house and through our day, I was also rushing us through life and their childhood. In the words of the fake Sausage King of Chicago, Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I didn’t want to miss it. I needed to slow down our routine, I needed to be more patient with my kids, after all, love is patient.
I started managing my time differently and gave priority to our morning routine. With more time to get out the door, it made the start of our day less chaotic. I worked in time to wait, time to let my kids “do it themselves” and kick the snowbanks (and soon to be splashing in puddles and then counting the ants on the peonies). In giving us more time to enjoy the little things along the way, I too am enjoying the time I have with my kids even more.
In recognizing my need to slow down I realized how fast we were truly moving through the whole day, not just our morning. I selfishly rushed through bath time and bedtime, really any time I was actually spending with my children. I also realized my parenting vernacular was full of impatient words, “come on, let’s go, hurry up, move it and NOWs.”
Patience is a practice and every day I’ll keep working at it. Of course there will still be days when we’re running behind and I need to hiss, but I want those days to be the exception, not the rule. It’s difficult to not get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of parenthood and it’s hard to slow down. It’s hard to be patient. I want to be my best self for my kids and I know I can do hard things. I can wait and keep a good attitude, perhaps every now and then, even encourage the hold up. Our kids are only little for such a short time. There will come a day when they are too cool to kick snowbanks, so today I’ll let them kick away.
It’s said that life is lived in the details. These are the details I want my kids to reflect on as they grow up, not memories of their foot tapping, hissing mother. I used to take pride in running a tight ship, but in becoming more patient, it’s nice to say that tight ship has sailed.