The old saying goes that ‘patience is a virtue…’ well it seems to be a virtue I wasn’t blessed with and it’s only now that I’m a mum do I truly see how much I am lacking in that department.
It’s funny how having kids turns a microscope on yourself. It magnifies all your failings, all your good points all, your grey areas, everything about who you are comes to the surface and it’s not always your best side.
Before I had kids I never really considered that my patience would be tested so very much. Sure, I assumed I’d be tired... although nothing can really prepare you for the tiredness of kids… Maybe pre-kids, if I ran a marathon, then after it had no shower and 1 hour sleep, then went straight to work where my colleagues shouted at me every time their computer froze of I gave them the wrong colour pen, then perhaps I would have had some iota of how tiring motherhood can be.
Recently though, I’ve really found my patience tested to the limit. My son is 17 months old and he is full on and as a stay at home mum, I’m the one in the firing line the majority of the time. I mean this kid could give the energiser fucking bunny a run for his money. He’s always on the go, he’s always climbing, and he’s always throwing balls, or playing with doors, reaching up on his tippy toes to get whatever is most dangerous or just generally chucking things to see what happens. He always wants whatever I have, be it a boiling cup of tea or a bottle of bleach, if it’s in my hands then he’s gotta have it too. And the meltdowns, dear God the meltdowns. They are epic. The word ‘no’ from mammy sets him off and he’s straight into tantrum land, so bad I think he might be possessed.
The power of Christ compels you, the power of Christ compels you!
But then often it can be over as soon as it began, the art of distraction in the form of a rice cake, Liga or the dog can usually take his mixed up mind off whatever injustice it is he’s crying over and he’s back in the room.
But then they are the days when they don’t end nice and quickly. The days endless long days, when it’s one tantrum after another, when he throws things and they smash on the ground, when he’s climbed up to the top of the couch and you manage to catch him just before he does a complete nose dive onto the floor. The days when he’s swinging out of the fire guard just for shits and giggles, the days when he won’t eat his food, the days when he runs around the house in the nip dodging my attempts to put on his nappy like a bull and a matador in the ring. The days when he arches his back and refuses to get into the car seat, the days when he goes rigid rather than get into the pram, the days when he won’t hold my hand and dashes off like Usain Bolt on our walk. The days when he hangs out of you whining, begging to be lifted up and when you do, he won’t let you put him down so he hangs out of you like a very cute, very heavy and very demanding spider monkey who wants to be carried to various points of interest abound the house – light switches, the key hook, the counter tops, on top of the table, the mirrors, the shelves with all the breakables… you get the idea.
And it’s on those days I tend to lose my shit. Any small semblance of patience disappears and a red mist descends. And I snap. I shout at him, tell him he is bold, that he has my heart scalded, all the cliches in the book.
Then the dog barks. She never wants to be left out!
I end up feeling horribly guilty, like I’ve failed (again!) that I am the worst mother in the world, that I’m doing it all wrong, that I’m not cut out for this and that he’ll end up in therapy some day and point to his crazy mother as the root of all evil, etc, etc.
But then a new day comes and we get over it.
What I’m saying is, it’s okay to lose it sometimes. It’s okay to feel like your patience has worn out. It’s not nice, it’s not ideal and I wish it wasn’t like that, but let’s just be real here, kids can wear you down to a nub sometimes. They can be complete terrors, they can push every button in your playbook and they can leave you feeling like you’ve checked your sanity at the door.
None of that makes you a bad parent. It just makes you a normal parent like every single one of us who is just winging their way through this parenting shit as they go.