Because patience is one, right? And I seem to have misplaced mine, quite thoroughly. I’m not sure if it’s something to do with the fact that I’m a fairly controlling, perfectionist type of personality to begin with, or if it’s more to do with the fact that my daughters and I are quite similar (in the strong and the will departments). Either way, I’m finding mothering at the moment is making me take so many deep breaths I’m close to passing out from hyperventilation.
Discussing patience as a notion over a few wines the other night, a very wise friend of mine described it like a rubber band. Sometimes it’s really stretchy, and those little things the kids do that push those buttons just bounce off. Other times, however, the band is short and stretched tight, at capacity, and one more ill-timed wail of ‘Mummeeeeeee’ or melodramatic display of crocodile tears is enough to snap the band.
I know that staying home and mothering is a noble and incredibly important job. I just feel like I’m utterly crap at it unless I can re-stretch my band by engaging my brain in a way that feels meaningful to me. I am not a naturally patient person, and have to work really hard to bend myself into being her, because that’s what my kids need from me. I’m finding it tough.
This wise woman I know is naturally more patient, but equally, she knows what she needs to do to keep her rubber band stretchy. She always stays one step ahead of her kids, and doesn’t allow herself downtime, because they’ll catch up and overtake her. A very smart approach, and one I’d like to follow. Whether through laziness or extreme tiredness, I’ve so far found myself unable to follow in these footsteps, possibly because I abhor schedules and waving away the daily monotony of catching the 7:14 bus, with the same grey and unsmiling faces, was one of the most victorious things about leaving my full-time job. Flying by the seat of my pants is in some ways what keeps me sane in the groundhog dayness of mothering, but at the same time what engenders the insanity, because I lose the control I’m so fond of.
So where’s the happy medium? Where do I find my patience? It’s the main thing I need to work on in Me Version 2.0, because I don’t want to be Cranky Mummy anymore. I suspect the key is organisation. I’m probably going to have to go back to basics and draw up a timetable, building in 15 minutes before every engagement to allow for infuriating child-isms like changing into different outfits instead of just going to put their shoes on, or deciding to rip off a complete set of clothes to jump in the shower with me, because I feel too mean to hold the door jammed shut and say ‘NO’ for the 50th time after we’ve all only been awake an hour. Then there are the exactly right princess bandaids to be selected and applied for the little clumsy one who somehow manages to injure herself at least ten times per day. It’s all the small stuff I’m sweating which brings its own healthy dose of guilt.
I’m pretty sure, though, if I could be an ethereal calm-mama who still somehow managed to turn up places on time without half-naked children, my kids would not only appreciate my patience and serenity, but I’d feel more in possession of virtue.
If there is any advice on which rock to turn over to find the stash of patience, I’d be most grateful for the map. Anyone?