One of my personal goals for this year was to be more patient with my children. I try to be even tempered, understanding and speak in a gentle but direct tone. Every so often, (o.k…several times a day) I find myself exasperated with one, two or all three of my children. I have three boys, an almost six year old, almost four year old and a one and a half year old. My friends often remark at how patient they think I am but just ask my boys, they will tell you, “Mommy yells!” So I decided to take an introspective look at what is causing me to lose my cool in order to address the source of my frustration. It seems that what it comes down to is managing my stress, my time and my expectations.
I come from a Portuguese family. We all yell. We yell when we are mad, happy or just to hear ourselves louder than anyone else. That cultural trait is engrained in my very DNA. I do not mind being loud or boisterous at a party or among friends and family. The problem is when my stress causes me to get to an ugly place with my children. I would like to use yelling as strictly a tool for alerting danger. I want my children to know without hesitation that when Mommy yells, they need to stop what they are doing immediately for their safety.
I have tried very hard throughout the years to improve my patience. I know that it is rooted in stress and frustration mostly with myself. When I feel good, I am grateful for what I have and look forward to every challenge because I know it will make me stronger. However, I do not feel like this all the time. Some days I feel overwhelmed with everything I have to do and dissatisfied with how little I am able to accomplish. In addition, I am typically running on very little sleep because one of the boys (or sometimes all three) will wake up in the middle of the night needing some comforting. On these days I am stressed and short tempered. I have to remind myself to take a deep breath before reacting. I am usually able to do this with my husband. When I get upset, I take a moment to reflect on the root of my aggravation and often it is connected to my own expectations. I communicate my feelings without simply blaming him. When dealing with my children, it is entirely different. I do not have the same ability to pause and consider my response. It angers me when they repeatedly do not listen, do not follow directions or make bad choices. I do not tolerate disrespect or malice toward anyone but especially each other. The situation is exacerbated when I am trying to get somewhere, do something or have a plan that they are interfering with by not cooperating. It is times like these where my patience is truly tested.
Perspective here is essential. The kids will not remember that we were late to the birthday party or that I did not get everything accomplished. They will however, remember how I took the time to help them get dressed, read a book or that I was silly when they least expected it. You must decide what is most important. The aggravation will not last, these moments will pass and the obstacles will not always be there. The kids will not always need me. They will eventually grow up and have their own lives and when that time comes I know I will feel that loss and wish they were little again.
It is possible to reduce stress and stay calm. From my experience we must embrace daily challenges as opportunities to practice maintaining our composure. Keep the following things in mind; The more patient you are, the easier it will be to find peace. Plan out the day with plenty of room for variables. Not everyone is on your schedule, so do not expect others to share your urgency. Prioritize what absolutely needs to be accomplished and focus on that first. As you feel your blood boiling, stop and take a deep breath. Eliminate your expectations and accept things for what they are.
Approach life in the same way. Set goals for yourself but do not have any expectations about how they might be achieved. Go along your path and be open to whatever road blocks you may find because the detour may be more rewarding than you realize.