Thursday, February 16, 2006

Working on Patience

People tell me I am a patient person, and generally that is true. I have no real problem with waiting in line, feel no need to rush somewhere, and am willing to play "Chutes and Ladders" or draw Cookie Monster over and over and over again for my children. There are times however, when my long rope of patience does indeed reach its end.

My children (ages 4 1/2 and 3) seem to be particularly adept at pushing my buttons to their absolute limit. When they refuse to cooperate, even after a warning and a punishment has been doled out, my blood pressure starts to rise. When my older son does not want to even try to write his name or tie his shoes (2 skills he is supposed to know before starting kindergarten in September), and instead repeatedly responds to my requests by throwing himself on the ground, I want to cry. When my younger son, who is so close to being potty-trained, stands right next to me and poops in his pants instead of saying "Mommy, I need to go potty!" I want to scream. When all of these things happen in the space of an hour, forget it, my patience has left the building.

I vowed many years ago never to spank my children, and thusfar have kept that promise. My goodness, however, I understand the urge. I know what it is to be so angry, so frustrated, so at a loss for options. But as I keep telling my own children that hitting is not how we deal with anger, so, too, I have to tell myself. As I tell them to count to ten or go to sit by themselves, sometimes I have to put myself on a time-out as well. I breathe deeply, try to regain some perspective. I generally repeat "Hail Mary, Queen of Peace, calm me" until I regain my composure. It's Ok for my children to know that I am not pleased with them, and indeed they do. But they also need to know that mommy stays in control, that the loss of patience is only temporary.

After a particularly rough day, I confess that I look forward to their bedtime with such anticipation! I know that parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. I give them hugs and tell them I love them. They always look so peaceful when they are sleeping. "Dear Lord, please give me patience." Tomorrow is another day.

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