This is a virtue I strive to strengthen.
Time and time again I am told by mothers, whose children have grown, how they wish they had cherished motherhood more. They wish they had lived in the moment more or were able to know then what they know now. They share this information, usually on deaf ears. In one ear and out the other as it is repeated over and over each generation.
The fact is, I don't know if any parent will ever pass away saying "I got the most, and gave the most, I ever could've as a parent." That doesn't mean we can't strive to have more of those positive moments that moms and dads of the past long for.
I've learned, part of it, is how we react to situations that arise. When my girls were younger, my best friend once told me that she loved how instead of beating my children when I was obviously getting to my breaking point, I would begin to tickle them lovingly and within moments we would all be laughing and I'd be much calmer. After all, laughter is the best medicine. Now that doesn't mean I haven't ever spanked my kids, yelled and screamed at them, or cracked at all. I have! We all have, as far as I can assume. I was just determined to do it less than I might have, if I didn't take control of my reaction to whatever was making me so impatient, upset, or even down right angry.
Over the years, I've become a lot slower with my anger and impatience and I've learned things that trigger me. If I'm hot, hungry, tired, feeling overly pressured and unheard, lacking control over certain things, in the middle of something that has my complete focus, claustrophobic, etc... I begin to feel panicked inside or at least annoyed and impatient. I've learned to express myself verbally to my children and tell them, "This is happening and I feel very _____ because of it."
We were at the grocery store on Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) I took all 4 of my children with me. I usually do. My youngest kept climbing out of the seat in the cart. My other younger one was running around trying to help me get things, I did not need or want, and asking if he could weigh them. The store was crowded. The parking lot wasn't completely fully, but still I don't do lots of people, which is one reason I don't live in a city. I could actually hear people complaining about my older 3 going around the produce section. People just couldn't believe it. (Sorry, I like my kids helping me shop. It teaches them how to!) The older 2 were just grabbing things that I asked them to. They do this for me all the time. It makes the trip shorter! Anyway. On top of that, I was feeling thirsty. I began to feel very stressed and frustrated. I almost cracked when my youngest tore my grocery list which was already wrinkly and hard to focus on. My oldest could tell, I was starting to lose my cool and she did everything she could to help us get through the store as fast as we could. If I turned to get something we needed she was right there ready to get her youngest brother back in the seat. Yes, I had him buckled. He kept squirming his way out of the belt. Didn't matter how tight I made it. If I needed something and she could get it, she would. She also helped keep her younger brother near by so he didn't run off. Though there were a few times he did and I raised my voice to him, once, louder than I ever have. At one point I was so stressed I almost started crying! (Hey, I'm pregnant! haha) And I told my kids I was sorry, I just wish I had been prepared enough to shop earlier. Once we were out to our truck and had everything and everyone loaded, I was fine again. I'm sure the whole trip was quite the show for the people around me. The nice part of it was, I never did crack. I've never screamed at my kids, or hit them, dragged them, or anything like that. I've seen moms do that for lesser offenses at stores before. Instead I accepted that, though some of it was what my sons were doing, most of it was personal. A lot of times when I have a rough time like that, I try to think of *something* positive to make me laugh and smile. This time I thought of how thankful I was for such helpful daughters and a son who was just as eager to be helpful. I was thankful for how quickly we were able to get through the store and that we got everything off our list. I was thankful that I have been able to teach my children how to grocery shop and that I normally can take all the kids to the store and have it not be a huge dramatic event. In those thoughts I found peace and I found joy, knowing that even in my weakness, God had brought me strength. I found joy in my children and the great blessing that they are.
Last night our church had a potluck meeting. I had been offered help, but ended up not utilizing it. I walked down the food table, three plates in my hand, trying to get stuff for my sons and myself without spilling the plates. Then I took the boys and sat down. At first they were so well behaved. Then my youngest decided it was time to run around and go places he wasn't supposed to. So instead of eating, I was chasing him. Finally I sat down with him and just held him. He flailed about, throwing himself this way and that, trying desperately to escape. I was trying to eat and have a grown up conversation. The nursery would be open soon, but wasn't quite yet. I was getting so frustrated. And then I realized, I have a choice. I can get mad and lose my cool or I can just laugh because really this time will pass and it really is pretty funny.I chose to laugh. As soon as I did, the others around me started to as well and I felt less embarrassed and annoyed knowing that the truth is, my kid is acting his age. What else can I expect from him. He calmed down a little and made silly sheepish faces when everyone started laughing. Faces that I find great joy in. A moment later the nursery opened, I thanked God, and took my boys down to it, so I could *finally* finish eating. One plus to his "misbehavior" was that I didn't hit the dessert table. I really shouldn't have, especially considering I'd already had ice cream after lunch as well as a mini reeses cup and 2 kit kat bars when we left the grocery store. My kids are sweet. They share their candy with me sometimes. I don't usually get them candy.
It is so easy to let our frustrations, impatience, annoyances bring us to a place of anger and negative reactions. When we take a moment to just think before we act, to remember that this is *one* moment in time and the next one could be much better, it can make it so much easier to find joy. Joy in our impatient moments.