A woman of no virtue

Also useful as a wake-up device when boredom rears its ugly head

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?


25 thoughts on “A woman of no virtue

  1. Pingback: Mumbot Version 2.0 - a work in progress | Falling Face First

  2. Ha, Kim, if you find some patience then please tell me where the pot of gold is! But I do find that when I’m well rested I’m more patient. And when I forget about things like housework or changing out of pyjamas… But definitely returning to work will help. Like you said – re-stretching my band (love that by the way). Good luck hun x

    • AH yes to sleep … perchance to dream… there’s the bloody rubbish that never happens around here. Clothes and housework though, definitely overrated in my book. I’m not entirely sure why they haven’t thought to put lycra inside school uniforms yet so they don’t need ironing. If I ever join a P&C, that’s what I’ll be pushing for.

  3. Ah, good ol’ patience! My long lost friend!
    I didn’t have much to begin with before being a mum so you can imagine that I’ve had to learn the really, really hard way!
    I have no answers or tips except to say that when things get over the edge and I’m about to crack it, I just try to remember that all of it is temporary – the tantrums, the tears, etc. That helps me stretch out the rubber band out a little…

  4. After a whinge, some tears, howls into a cushion and grumbles (all mine), I just scrape my failed-parenting self up off the floor and keep trying. Cue Yo Gabba Gabba, “Keep trying, keep trying, don’t give up, don’t give up…” The alternative is to beat my head against a brick wall and keep fighting. Work in progress, I like to remind myself. Good luck with yours, Kim, and try not to be too hard on yourself (which is something I also need to learn!)

    • Good luck with yours too Veronica, and thanks for coming over to visit! Ah that Gabba Gabba – where would I be without his wise words?? Probably running around biting my friends.

  5. You sound so much like me, and your life so much like mine – somedays I feel that if I have to put away one more outfit that has been discarded on the floor for another, my rubber band is going to snap for good. What helps me sometimes is a glass of wine at witching hour, and a break from the little kids – where they get to go stay with their grandparents for a night or day.

  6. Gosh I love the rubber band analogy. I, too, can be all loose and relaxed some days and stretched to the brink of an almighty twang on others. All those little niggly whines and whims really add up over the course of a day. I’ve never been very disciplined personally either, but ‘going with the flow’ is often counter productive with kids around (it results in chaos rather than relaxed spontaneity!) I look forward to hearing whether your timetable approach works for you.

    • Sadly my stretchy wiggly days seem few and far between. I’ll let you know what happens – Im definitely fed up with chaos. Especially leading up to school next year – I want a calm system in place before we start off being late every day to kindy. Self-improvement post coming up soon … Watch this space!

  7. Oh yes, you need to have patience but we all aren’t like your freind. You just have to work at it (I’m STILL working at it). I think you grow into motherhood, it doesn;t just appear like magic. Great post!

    • It’s true – I’m going to approach patience like an ‘in-house training course’ rather than part of my original skillset. It’s a learned skill rather than a natural thing for me, and thankfully not JUST me it would seem! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  8. Hi there I totally relate to how you feel and I only have one. I have found that over the years my patience has stretched, and in some ways the kids get easier to handle. If you find the kids are pressing certain buttons that wind you up more than they should try reading the dr Dan Siegel book parenting from the inside out. It’s a bit heavy duty in the science bit but you can skip those sections. It basically shows you how or why kids press our buttons (personal to us all) and how we can I guess change our reactions to it. He used the example of how every time his kid cried it wld send him spare but after reflection he realized that during his time as a trainee paediatrician where he had to look after really sick kids and at time inflict pain ie needles etc, there was no counsellor or support to cope with it. Each time his kid cried it brought it back. I know it sounds a bit out there but it really helped me to understand why I’d lose my patience at my poppet at times when I really shouldn’t have. Just remember you are not alone!! We all lose our virtues regularly xx

    • Hi Bachelormum – really appreciate you taking the time to share this. I’ll check it out for sure. I’m pretty nerdy so I actually like the science bits too – it sounds great! And the crying example is a great one – it’s definitely a button-pusher for me too. x

  9. When you find the rock and are finished with it, send it my way!

    I have a mantra. She’s two, she’s two, she’s two… It sees me practice something that possibly looks like patience, but is actually just distraction of my frustration until the task(s) at hand are complete.

    • I like that – and it’s going to take a lot longer to say ‘she’s 3 and a half’. Genius! I think the appearance of patience is about the best I can hope for …

  10. I don’t have any real answer, but I think reflection is key. We’ve all been there, but it’s only if we reflect that we can adjust our behaviour next time … and this post is all about reflection, so you’re probably already on your way to where you want to be :)

    • I hope you’re right, in which case I’m only halfway crap (But possibly a third awesome ;) I might try and do some reflecting in the actual moment next time, and see what happens. Might buy me some time :)

  11. For the record, I did the no yelling thing where if they go to school in their pj’s, I don’t care. This alarmed the kids so much, they whispered to each other and kept asking me what was wrong. I think they preferred me yelling “Will you get dressed” fifty times over strolling out the door…

  12. You need a little patience but I don’t think it hurts the kids to know that sometimes they drive you nuts (and they can change their behaviour to avoid that outcome). But I’m the mean mum. My kids are lovely tho – most of the time….;)

    • Thanks Victoria. Hanging on…with teeth! Appreciate the support in any case, and I’ll count success in them being clean, fed, comfortable and happy for now. Me Version 2.0 can wait until I’ve had some sleep.

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