Monday, November 17, 2008

Patience is a Virtue

How many of you ever thought you were a patient person--until you became a mother? I could never honestly claim I possessed this virtue in abundance before I had four children, but I never realized until these little sweethearts came along just how taxing an attempt at patience can be. I've almost felt I would burst at every seam in frustration at repeated inappropriate behavior as I've tried to handle stressful situations with love and, of course, patience. There have been times I've had to take a breath, speak far more kindly than I feel inside, and hurry into my closet to stomp my foot and let out an irrepressible scream (oh yes, I've learned two-year-old tantrums never really leave our systems--we just get better at masking them).

The past couple weeks at my house have been more difficult than usual. It seems my children have ganged up against my husband and me and have decided to test our resiliency and, yes, patience. Children, I've learned, are very good at this--especially three-year-olds. I've always heard reports about the dreaded "terrible two's," but my experience has been the "three's" are far worse. It's not fair to place blame entirely on one person, so I've used the term "children," but in all honesty, it's my three-year-old (almost four, thank heavens) who seems to be at the root of most of our problems lately. How can one little child consistently make such humongous messes? How can one sweet little girl be so defiant and naughty? How can one tiny human change her clothes so many times in a day, leaving whatever she discards all over the house? It's really quite amazing what one small child can accomplish in the course of one day and how many times she can try a mother's patience. Yes, I definitely think patience is one of the five virtues motherhood is teaching me, and I have to admit at this point, I'm not sure it's one I'll ever master. Maybe if I did, I wouldn't need so many lessons on it.

Now, in all fairness, this unforgettable child isn't all bad, even if she is a chronic liar, a sneak, and a pest. She's also wonderful in many more ways. In fact, just last night (at the end of another brutal Sunday--this one much better than the last, thankfully), when I was cleaning an incredibly filthy kitchen, my little trouble-maker looked at me, and out of the blue, said, "You're such a good Mommy." I nearly dropped the dishes I was rinsing. I ran right over to her, threw my arms around her and thanked her, covering her in hugs and kisses. She must have liked this response because after a minute of thinking, she followed up with another amazing declaration. "You're wonderful, Mommy." Again I ran over to her and smothered her with love and thanks. A third time she reached deep to find something great to say about me. I couldn't wait to hear what she came up with. Finally, she said, with a huge, proud grin, "You're very not stupid, Mommy." It wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I loved her for it anyway. A few minutes later, when she was throwing a fit about going to bed, I tried to remember her sweet comments, then I tucked her in--very patiently--and sighed in relief that I had made it through another day.

I've always heard "Patience is a virtue," whatever that means. All I know is it's definitely something my children test and try on a daily basis. But then again, I guess it's only fair; after all, I was a child once, too, and I can still remember pushing my mother to her limit, and then some. Yesterday an older man in our ward was over talking with my husband and he made the comment, "People think parents raise kids; it's really the other way around--kids raise parents, and then the kids grow up and realize their kids are raising them." I couldn't agree more!


Heather Moore said...

I agree that the 3's are tougher than the 2's. I just take it one day at a time!

Abby said...

You're so cute, Lori! You make laugh... usually because I know exactly what you're talking about! I really can't wait for my 4 year olds to stop throwing fits!

Melanie Bingham said...

I can tell you're a writer. Your blog is easy and fun to read. My friend that has six was given some sage advise from her dad. He said when you are loosin patience and tempted to yell whisper instead.

The Martinez Fam said...

I am always so entertained by your posts!! It really is true that at times we have to remind ourselves of how sweet and loving our children can be to keep our anger in check--my 19-month old being the one teaching me that concept right now!!:)

AJ Gorham said...

I never considered myself to be a patient person...imagine my dismay when I became a mother?!! has been a work in progress! Thanks for the great post!

Randall said...


I couldn't help laughing when I read this post. That might sound strange, but I can so relate and I know my wife can. Our five and two- year old are wonderful children -- but oh can they be naughty at times. Then, out of the blue they can surprise you with something they say or do and all the ice you may have had around your heart because of anger toward them melts instantly. I've had lots of experiences like that.

I couldn't help laughing at your daughter's "Stupid" comment. It made me think of something my five-year old said to me recently. I've lost a bit of weight over the last several months. One night I was exercising in the evening, which I normally do in the morning. My five year old walked and started watching me. After a few moments she pipe up, "Gee dad, you're looking pretty good. You used to be big and fat. Now you only kinda fat."