I am slowly but surely becoming a better person, and will no doubt achieve that flawless maternal perfection epitomized by, say, Dooce in time to work it on my great-great-grandchildren. I recently managed to go from being late all the time to at least much better (and wrote about it for Parenting–look, that glam mom in the accompanying picture is me! Really!).
This month (season? year? decade?) the project is: Patience.
The expert coach for the moment is Rory. Because she needs patience. Brusk snapping hurts her feelings, and her feelings have a right to be tender. Worse, because she can’t handle getting brushed off, or yelled at because she’s asked for me to, say, pick her up when I’m carrying four grocery bags, three lunch boxes, a backpack and a vase of flowers, she has a tendency to collapse into the tantrummy shrieks that are her version of just being crushed and overloaded at very inconvenient moments.
So, I want to be better for Rory. And I don’t want her to implode on me in the parking lot of the nursery school. Plenty of incentive for improvement, both selfish and un. I have been forced to get more patient–and I have found that everybody wins! All kids are happier–and so am I.
I thought venting was good for me. I think I kind of thought I liked it. And I’m still prone to say things like, of course you can have another cup, sweetheart, because even though I’ve already poured your milk into the red cup I want you to be happy, and because I LOVE doing more dishes! Love it! Bring ’em on! In a very good-natured, happy way that occasionally involves slamming cups on the counter so hard that they break. (Lily still says, Mommy, when I’m grown up, please don’t come to my house and dirty all the clothes and rub crumbs into the carpet.)
Oops–venting. Back to the patience. Which I genuinely have more of–turns out you don’t really use it up, because the more you practice it, the easier it is. I have been trying, so hard, to take the proverbial deep breath (I like blinking three times) to see if maybe I can find it in myself to answer nicely, to ask the child to put it’s shoes on for the fifth time in a calmer way. To make even those moments when I am truly saying, listen, honey, if you don’t put your shoes on I really am going to put you in the car without them, and then you will have to ride in the cart at the grocery store the whole time, and that has happened before and you don’t like it, calmer moments. For all of us.
And I know it’s better, because this morning when I had to dig hats, mittens and warner coats out of the basement for everyone right in the middle of the tight morning schedule (because look, it’s fall and it’s COLD! Surprise! man, if this happened every year it would be easier to plan for), and Lily didn’t want gloves she wanted MITTENS, and I HAD two matching gloves for Wyatt and lost one one the stairs and then he wanted mittens TOO and well…
I only yelled a little. And I got them gloves. And we were on time. Except that I forgot the lunch boxes, and had to go back for them after drop-off (I forgot them, not them, remember, these are the little kids, Sam would have just had to suffer). And I still didn’t yell. Much. At them.
As for those wagon rides? At school, in twenty minutes. Parent attendance “optional.” Which I tried to take them up on, but judging from the reaction I got we have different definitions of the word “optional.” But I am going to go and be happy, because, well, I’d rather be happy. I’m choosing to accept my lot and ride in the bumpy, chilly, hay-filled trailer behind the pooping horses with a pleasant smile. No, really. Promise.