Wednesday, January 26, 2011

no fast getaway (and other parenting truths)

I have never been a patient person. Sometimes I am more patient than other times, but most of the time I am screaming inside. When I try to go all calm, I forget to breathe.

I am (/have been/ always will be) working on this. And I might be a decade ahead of schedule since I have a toddler and a baby. A toddler and a baby demand patience. I read a parenting book that reccommended just slowing down. When you spend time with baby, be on his time. Don't hurry through that diaper change. Don't rush the bath. Just live a little more slowly.

So I am living a little more slowly. Sometimes a lot more slowly. This is why it can take twenty minutes to round up a sweater and shoes for Claire and buckle Grant into his car seat before walking out the door. Twenty minutes might be a conservative estimate because here is what else must be done: one last potty trip, socks, water bottles, cut an apple, make sure I've got a diaper and wipes for the Little One, bring a change of pants and underwear for Firstborn, find keys and phone, put on mascara (yes, must), sunglasses, hat(s), and okay: out the door.

Anyway, this morning we met friends at a cafe. Other moms, babies, and a three year old girl. A nice group. Claire sat on a chair and did well most of the time. Then she got bored.

And here is where I really, really struggle. Claire is not a Sally Sit Still. To be fair, not many toddlers are. Claire likes to walk jump run chase spin. She likes to go limp when you want her to stand on her own two legs. She thinks all of life is a game, and at two years old, I guess it mostly is. So I am trying to see her energy as a gift. Many days, I just enjoy who she is, just love the little person I get to spend my time with, and am amazed by how quickly she learns. She cracks me up. She amuses me with her stories. But sometimes I just want to sit and drink a coffee and taste the food in front of me instead of playing Distraction Tactics.


So today I found myself saying I thought I'd rather parent a teenager. Partly because there are some days when I don't think I actually sit down for longer than two or three minutes until two in the afternoon. A teenager sleeps in until two in the afternoon.

But then you've got this camp: hold on to the sweet moments time passes too quickly you'll miss this time cherish cherish cherish. Only my own Mom told me me the truth that I might not miss this time. She didn't say that in a mean way, or even a particularly knowing way. She just gave me permission to not love every little bit about parenting a toddler and baby. It's exhausting. It's a constant pull between being selfish or selfless.

Being a mama is a refining fire. And I want to be the mama that Claire needs and the mama that Grant needs; that means meeting them where they are at, leading them gently. Teaching them manners and obedience and healthy curiousity. And it means being God's love in their life. And love means being patient. Among so very many other things. But that is what I was thinking about today. Being patient. I get so frazzled. My impatience isn't a part of my self that I am pleased with; I know I need to let go. Just relax into patience instead of thinking of Patience as a project I've got to tackle. Quit fighting it, you know?

When I was twelve or thirteen my Dad gave me a Bible and on the inside cover he wrote "Be there." That is a piece of advice that sailed over my head then. But in the years since, I have found myself thinking about those two words many times. Sometimes I wonder if he meant it for that adolescent present or if he was thinking of my furture self, the mama who would need to be reminded to just be there, right where I am. Be here.

With my two-year-old and my baby, sweet ones.

Edited to add: I do enjoy the sweet moments. I do cherish this time. Don't think that I really wish it away. I love watching Claire learn something new - the other day she worked hard to color in the lines, something I've never said she should do but something she must have seen us do. She likes to read. I enjoy reading books with her. And Grant is turning into such a smiley guy, but we still have to work for his laughs. He looks around with wide eyes. I think about a year from now and who he'll be - one year in childhood is such a difference! And I think about who I might be in one year too, how my life will have changed for another year of being refined.


Clare said...

oh, how i've thought the same thing...there's a reason i teach high school, not preschool! comforting to hear it from someone else (and from your mom too!).

Grams said...

sure would like to see pictures... Bet the kids are growing. Hope all are well and happy.

Anonymous said...

I love this, Sarah. You are a good mommy.