People seem to generally think of me as a patient person. In the past, when I was complimented on my patience, it baffled me a little. The truth is, there have been many times over the years that I have lost my cool. Like, too many to count. Up until Medina was 3 I actually considered myself to be really quite impatient and I’m pretty sure my husband and siblings could attest to that. But I hated that about myself. It was always something I knew I needed to work on but it wasn’t until I had a complete melt down that I felt it was worth actively seeking out a solution that would work for me.
This isn’t a story that I’m particularly proud of but it’s a significant part of my journey. When Medina was 3 and Amaya (our second daughter) was almost 2 I was having a rough week. A really rough week. I was putting these girls in time outs multiple times a day. I was being challenged by them constantly. They were crying for EVERYTHING, it seemed. I was just over it. Then, something happened. Medina was in time out for the 3rd or 4th time of the day for whatever reason and was still managing to upset me. She was laughing in time out. LAUGHING. I had a rage of fire burning inside me and this kid was having fun? I was outraged. I yelled. I picked her up and put her, roughly, into a new time out spot far away from her sister so they would stop smiling at each other. She hurt her little butt when I put her down and started crying. I guess I was satisfied enough that she had stopped giggling and laughing and just outright mocking me in my face so I walked away. But I wasn’t really satisfied. I was miserable. I hurt her little butt. I know it was probably more her feelings that hurt than anything else but she was sad and it was my fault. I locked myself in my room and cried. Sobbed, actually. It wasn’t what I had imagined myself to be like as a mother. I really thought I’d be better and that my kids would listen to me because I was firm and clear. There was too much to sort through in my mind but there was no time for that right then because I had some apologizing to do. I gathered myself, got the girls together and just held them for minute. I took Medina’s face into my hands and told her I was so sorry. I let her know that I was having a really hard day and I didn’t mean to hurt her. Medina, at 3, was more forgiving than most adults I know and it only made me feel worse.
When Sameer got home he was already furiously text-briefed about my day and, thankfully, relieved me of the rest of my nightly routine so that I could spend some much needed time with my thoughts. This is what I came up with:
1.The whole week had been my fault:
2. My babies are a reflection of me.
I know that I had the conversation with a few people after I came to this realization because, even though it doesn’t seem like a very difficult concept, its hard to realize that its happening when you’re in the moment. Turns out I was going to have a bad week regardless of what the girls were doing. I am an anxious person by nature and that week had been particularly hard for me. Not them. They were the same amazing little people as always. I just had no patience for it and they were tired of my lack of patience for them. I mean, did I really have to yell at Amaya for taking too long to come down when she stopped to scratch her foot for 2 minutes on the stairs? Of course she’s going to cry! Her foot itched!
I realized that it is COMPLETELY up to me, as the adult, to model their behavior for the day. Simple enough, right? Actually, YES!
I went to bed thinking about my personal goals for the next day:
I will be patient
I will be kind
I will stay calm
I will be present
It worked. Kids are magical. It took one day. ONE DAY to change the way this entire household ran. I have since chosen to be patient with them every day and they return the favor. How did I expect them to just know how to be these wonderful little people without modeling the behavior myself? How does that even make sense? I have to teach them not to pee themselves but expect them to be the bigger person in this relationship sometimes? Never again. These girls will only be as kind as I am to them. That means working on myself everyday and if there is the occasional slip up, swallowing my pride and apologizing because it means something to them. Even when I don’t think they care for it, I apologize anyway because its important for them to know that I was wrong and want to be better. Not apologizing leaves them wondering if my bad behavior is normal sometimes- and I don’t want them to ever question how they should be treated. Sure, sometimes they will be disrespected or mistreated but I want them to KNOW deep down that it isn’t that they deserve it- but that all people are imperfect.
Today I can honestly say that I feel like a more patient person. I genuinely appreciate my little people and want to give them the respect they deserve. I want to treat them with infinite love and kindness every single day in the way people seemed to assume I already was…and so much more.
Every morning I write down my goals for the day. Obviously, I have them memorized by now but that’s not the point. Writing personal goals down on paper suddenly makes it part of the day’s To Do list. It has been over 2 years since we’ve had another day like my melt down day. They’ve gotten a time out here and there but I’ve more recently decided that I’m against time outs all together anyway (Sameer hasn’t been briefed on this particular development yet) but that’s another post for another day…..