It was that time of the month again, no not THAT time. It was the once a month moms group at my church that I love. I am getting to know some amazing women beyond the quick hello/goodbyes we shout as we chase our kids through the hallways on a Sunday. It helps that our moms group has a great children's program. So our kids play and learn and eat snacks, while we chat, and craft and drink coffee. I am also meeting some new women from our community which is a blast. There is nothing the joys and trials of motherhood to bring a group together. Where else can you talk about your sons peeing on you as a right of passage without getting funny looks. Not to mention the colors and textures of poop, our bodies or our children's art projects. I love hanging out with other mommies.
I do a little talking to the group each month. We have chosen the fruits of the spirit as our themes for this year, obviously something I enjoy since this blog is all about finding God's fruit in my life. In the past I have posted what I wrote to share about peace and love so here is this month's thoughts on patience.
When we think of patience we usually think of handling life's frustrations without losing our tempers. Sometimes it is the long line in front of us at Starbucks when we have not had our morning coffee. Other times it is our child refusing to put on their shoes. We think of patience as not throwing a tantrum standing in line or yelling at our kids when they don't move fast enough. Patience used to be one of my better qualities and then I had children.
But lately I have come to realize that patience goes way beyond not yelling or tantruming. Really our reactions to those situations is a question of self control. Patience is something bigger, something deeper. I loved how dictionary.com describes patience, "quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence." Patience is allowing enough time, being keen enough to understand the bigger picture, and a willingness to persevere through the process. Patience for me begins with really understanding that my kids, my life, my world is a work in progress. We are not finished products, nor our my kids done growing and learning once they are potty trained. This brings a lot of relief to me as I watch Middle Man struggle with carpet time. I tried everything I could think of to help him sit still. We talked about carpet time behavior - "Criss cross apple sauce, hands in laps, chocolate chips - zipped lips." I made a reward chart for when he sat quietly in his place on the carpet which has not been very successful. I was getting really frustrated with his inappropriate carpet time behavior. What more could I do to help him succeed. I was seriously wondering if I was going to have to find some special carpet time tutor or kinder whisperer until one of my friends kindly reminded me that HE IS 5! That is what kindergarten is all about. Learning to sit still and listen when someone else is talking. And as my brother also reminded me, there are a lot of grown ups that cannot do carpet time but are still highly successful in their worlds. Patience starts with remembering that life is a process. We don't have to be in a hurry just because the world moves so fast. Life is hopefully long. He will someday sit quietly in meetings or choose a job with very few meetings. He will outgrow his fidgety 5 year old self.
Beyond that, for me, patience really comes down to first, being prepared. I remember once forgetting to put an extra diaper in my bag. I was not concerned because my 2 year old was on a pretty set schedule so I figured he would only need the one diaper I had. Turns out he did not realize he was only allowed to go once while we were out that day. I lost it a bit which is pretty sad when I realize I was annoyed at a 2 year old for doing what has to be done. I was unprepared that day.
And the second key to patience for me is allowing plenty of time. Most days when I lose my cool with my kids it is because I am either not prepared or because I have not left enough time in our day. There is nothing that will slow a 4 year old down faster than telling them to hurry up. I must rush my kids a lot because Hockey Boy now worries about being late which is doubly sad because he is always the first one ready to walk out the door and I am often bringing up the rear. When I do leave more than enough time to get everything done, when I have the lunches made the night before, when the laundry is folded and everyone has plenty of clean clothes, when the shoes are in their cubbies and I start the leaving the house process more than 2 minutes before our scheduled departure, life goes more smoothly. There is less anxiety on my part which translates into the kids being more peaceful and therefore more helpful. I have to admit that I really struggle with this. I usually "allow" plenty of time, but then I lose track of time and forget to start the shoes, jacket and backpack process. And so we are often then rushing at the end to get to the bus stop on time. But I am working on it.