Shallow patience and the storm of parenting

It’s a sunny morning in Kelowna, but we had such a stormy beginning to the day. Just like a squall out on the water, you don’t notice it coming at first… Just a few ripples, then some waves. But then the heavens crack open and you get soaking wet.

One of my daughters was dragging her feet this morning. She didn’t like the oatmeal we had to eat, and took 30 minutes to eat. Ripples. Then she wanted to wear her Ethiopian hoodie but needed some jeans, and had to dry them in the dryer. Small waves. Then her coat was itching her and she didn’t want to wear it with as scarf, and it took more than ten minutes of whining and complaining and trying on other coats to just get her into her coat. A rumble in the distance.

This whole time I am politely prodding, pushing, listening, empathizing and doing everything in my power of Nice Mommy to get her out the door. Finally, she’s in her coat and we are going out the door, and THEN she complains that I am always making them late for school. I crack.

I don’t yell, but I raise my voice and tell her point blank that this is her fault that we are late. She crumples, crying that I am mean to her, and say mean things. I can see her crying, and part of me grabs her for a hug and starts assuring her that I do love her… but the other part of me is resentful of the time we are spending. Another late day. She is missing her reading time, which she really needs. The teacher will be upset. And dang it… I am missing my Tai Chi class, which is when I am supposed to RELAX!

I don’t YELL!!!!! (That is my suppressed yelling!) but there is a hardness in my voice and demeanour, and she senses it. It takes forever to calm her down, especially because I don’t feel calm. I feel the clock ticking. I don’t want to let her off the hook, but I need to be gentle. I know she has good reasons for stressing out when she senses anger. I know I need to be Nice Mommy and make her feel safe and loved and prioritized. But I just don’t seem to have those infinite depths of patience. I hit bottom, and, inside, Nice Mommy feels like Annoyed Mommy.

I got her and myself simmered down. She accepted responsibility for her behaviour making us late, and I promised to make lunches the night before so I could “help her” be on time. The winds blew more lightly. I held her and held her until she smiled and squirmed away. Then I dropped her and her sister off at school, a half hour late, with a note apologizing and a promise from her to say sorry to the teacher.

She’s good now. I affirmed that she was more important (she needs this) than school or my activities. She skipped into the school. Her sister walked patiently beside her. I swear, the only person who truly has enough patience with her is her twin.

But I missed my Tai Chi. Dang. I really needed that today.

So here I am sitting out by the lake, trying to calm and chill and get the thoughtful mediation action I get at Tai Chi.

But underneath, there is no peaceful calm after the storm on my side. This is the hard part of parenting: truly putting yourself after your kids, time and time again. The hardest part isn’t doing it; the hardest part is doing it selflessly, over and over, with no recognition of it, and then being ok with that at the end of the day. It’s not that hard to act like Nice Mommy. It’s hard to always feel like Nice Mommy inside and out.

PS: I spent 1/2 an hour sitting by the lake and calming down. And writing is cathartic. That said, I think I may be ready for a parenting break! Good thing I’m going to a moms retreat this weekend… Thank you to my parents! 🙂

4 thoughts on “Shallow patience and the storm of parenting

  1. ahhh – such an apropos post. i failed at nice mommy today (i’ll be honest, i often fail) but also spent the time to get it back and everyone secure and happy before heading to school….thanks for sharing your struggles – sure helps.

    • Thanks Karyn… I was feeling a bit self indulgent after posting this, so your comment made me feel less self-centred! Thank you!

  2. Oh, so timely for me too — glad I saved this to read until now! I am tired, head-achey and stressed tonight, with too many demands on my time and not enough of me to go around. I’ve managed to keep Nice Mommy in the house, but Grumpy Mommy is starting to wake up! This was a great reminder to take the time to show my kids that they are more important than my other commitments.

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