Impatience and frustration rear their proverbial ugly heads in my psyche a little too often these days. Motherhood seems to have breathed life into these nasty twins. With other people’s children I can handle a lot of trying situations without bother. When I taught little ones, I found them amusing, gifted, and pleasantly rebellious when they would, say, tell silly jokes instead of work math problems or color outside the lines. I didn’t mind if they giggled loudly in the hallways. Even more serious offenses, like not getting their homework done, or lying to save face, didn’t ruffle me. I was there to love them, teach them what I could, and model kindness and patience. (Notice I said little ones. My teenage students pushed my buttons!).
So I figured I could keep it up when I had a child of my own.
Well, now, you shake your head and smile.
What is the truth? I tell my son to “Hurry” so often that he has made a game out of making sure I don’t quit saying it! “Mommy, say, ‘Hurry’ ” he demands, as he moves like a snail when we should be out the door and in the car already. I get frustrated when he won’t stop running around the kitchen long enough for me to wipe the food off of his hands and face. I growl when he splashes around in the sink instead of opening his mouth for me to brush his teeth. I even get a bit mad when he lies and says, “NO POOP!” and there is really quite a lot of it.
It certainly puts me to the test.
But—and probably my husband, Luke, should get all the credit—somehow, this tiny human I love like crazy who brings out my crazy, oozes a whole lot of empathy and love for his mommy.
Every other day he tells me, “Don’t worry, Mommy.” Every other day, and sometimes a couple of times a day, he leaps forward and hugs me tight after a particularly bad bout of mommy frustration. Every day he says, “It’s okay, I don’t mind about it,” when I say phrases such as, “Don’t get your shoes wet!” and “You’ll be cold without your jacket!” and “You’ll be hungry later if you don’t eat something now.”
I mean, this boy, he’s up on reading my body language too. He knows when Mommy is stewing.
Recently we were supposed to all leave the house early for a trip. I wasn’t quite ready on time, but when I finally was, Luke was upstairs singing and playing guitar. I knew we had to get on the road, especially because he had told me what time we should leave. Luke didn’t get frustrated with me when I missed the time, but boy was I at peak impatient-boiling-into-frustration when he wasn’t ready. I didn’t say a word, however, trying to be calm and kind, but Geddy sensed it. He looked up at me and said, “Don’t worry, Mommy, I’ll go get Daddy.” He ran upstairs and told Luke we were all ready to go and then he came back downstairs and hugged me and said it would be okay.
Well. May I remember this daily and keep my priorities straight. It really is all going to be okay. Just breathe. And love. And let go of the little things, because really, wet shoes, skipped dinners, slowpoke little boys, are so not things to lose my cool over. It’s all coloring outside the lines, and we need more of that.
Annie writes from Idaho where she works as a freelance copyeditor and stay-at-home mom, occasionally blogging about childhood and random thoughts at Touchingoninfinity.com.