Wednesday, August 31, 2011

(Just a Little) Patience

I had a challenging meeting at work today. There have been a series of these meetings for a project I'm helping out on and every one of them has been challenging. In some ways I look forward to the challenging part. Sometimes I actually like the high energy debates, the emotional intensity and the passion. I'll take that over "oh, it doesn't matter to me" or "whatever" any day.

However, even with my somewhat twisted fascination of confrontation I am usually exhausted by the end of the meeting and often I feel defeated and disappointed in myself. Mostly it's because I lose my temper or I was very impatient with others. I'm a quick thinker, I like to take quick (but informed) action and I like decisions to be made sooner than later. I sometimes forget that other people may not do things quite the same way.

So, after the meeting today I started thinking about how my patience and sometimes quick temper have been tested since becoming a parent. I'll start off by admitting that I have lost my patience in a bad way twice with Baby. By bad, I mean I raised my voice (ok, I yelled...loudly) at Baby. Once when she was about 7 months old and once when she was about 16 months old. I'm not proud of either incident and I actually felt physically ill after each time. I was yelled at A LOT as a child and it is very scary to be yelled at by someone who is supposed to protect and take care of you. Anyway, those were the two worst times. I wish they hadn't happened but they did. I apologized after but somehow that still doesn't seem like enough. I'm still undecided on whether an apology actually undoes anything or makes anything better.

Anyway, even though I say that losing my cool has only happened twice....what I really mean is that those were the only times I lost it outwardly in a rather dramatic fashion. I've actually lost my patience countless times and felt downright anger towards Baby. Mostly when Baby was sleeping so poorly. Being woken up in the middle of the night for the tenth time for several weeks in a row does not bring out the best in a person. Not in me at least. Even now, I sometimes get impatient with Baby when she's daudling and I'm in a rush or she wants me to sit in THIS EXACT place RIGHT NOW for the 100th time. I sigh or the tone of my voice changes. I work at not making it too apparent to Baby by muttering under my breath a lot. She doesn't seem to notice so I think I'm fairly good at hiding it.

I work hard at doing better than hiding it though. I try to be present in every situation, every interaction that I have with Baby. This helps by keeping me from thinking too far ahead about where I need to be next or what I need to be doing next thus reducing my impatience. Instead, I slow down and enjoy what I'm doing now with no expectation of the future. What is that saying...."life is what happens when you're busing making other plans"....or something like that.

I remind myself that looking at every single flower on the way to the grocery store is actually an amazing thing to do. The world is an amazing and beautiful place and I feel I'm often too busy to stop and smell the roses so to speak. Baby reminds me of this every day. She is genuinely amazed at everything she sees, feels, hears, smells, tastes, touches. She has truly been an amazing teacher for this important lesson I'm trying to remember. I'm so grateful to her for that.

One other important thing that also pops into my mind when I'm feeling particularly annoyed, angry or impatient is that I don't to treat Baby the way I was treated by my step father. I will not let another human being go through the disrespect and fear that I went through. For me, the simple thought of what I don't want to be quite often helps me be what I really want to be. A patient, respectful, gentle parent.

Now if I can just remember all that the next time I'm sitting in another annoying meeting at work I'll be golden.


nellie said...

Very nicely said.

West Philly Mama said...

I struggle with raising my voice. I grew up in a yelling household - and now when I go back to visit I cringe at all the yelling, even when it's not angry. I don't want that for him. But it's hard. And absolutely sleep - or lack thereof, rather - brings it out the most.