Finding Patience When You Need It Most
e've all been in stressful situations that often catch us off guard and make us feel instantly out of control. And if you have kids, it's probably a daily occurrence. It's moments like these that test our ability to be calm, compassionate and patient. Here are stories about real women who learned to be patient during trying times and are the better for it.
Change the Focus
Being a mother of three young boys, I have learned that patience is a tool I use most. A lot of moms use specific techniques that may last for a short time but I believe parenting needs more creativity. I think if you pretend tons of people are watching you, you learn to be more patient than ever, and you create a fix for the problem at hand. It may be just hugging your son at that moment, or changing the subject, or singing a silly song really loud. With patience, you are able to think of a quick fix. I have heard the saying, "Dance like no one is watching." My saying is, "Parent like everyone is watching."
----Jodi Brown, Maywood, New Jersey
I try to be as patient as I can with my 2-year-old and 5-year-old, but they really work my last nerve when they fight over a certain toy. Even though we have what seems like hundreds of toys, they always want to play with the one thing that the other one is playing with (of course!). So rather than freak out or scream at them and lose my temper altogether, lately I've been taking the toy and putting the toy in a 5-minute "time-out." They immediately find other things to play with -- and by the time the five minutes are up, they've forgotten all about the toy they were battling over. And they quickly get the message that if they fight over a toy, that toy is taken away.
-Julie Taylor, Glendale, California
Calls for Attention
When my 2-year-old son wants attention, anything goes. He'll let out high-pitched screams, "decorate" the floor with Cheerios, bang a spoon against the wall -- things that he knows I hate. My instinct is to get angry and yell; then I realize all he really wants is for mommy to stop watching TV and spend time with him. I give him a hug, aware that sometimes it takes a child to teach his parent.
--Elyse Orecchio, New York, New York
Late for Work
I live on an organic farm in the hills of western Puerto Rico. When I'm late for work (teaching yoga), almost invariably that's when the neighbors' roosters, hens and their chicks decide to go for a walk across the road. I've even almost hit a cow lying halfway across the one-lane road. My reaction to these obstacles would often be involuntary swearing, and my heart rate would increase and I'd be overtaken by anxiety about being late. Once I got past them, the rest of the trip would be tense as I tried to make up the lost time. I finally realized that when such obstacles get in my way that I can't do anything about it, but I could do something about my state of mind. I try to find humor in the situation, take a few deep breaths, and let go of the anxiety. My neighbors used to always yell "relax" when I drove by. They don't do it so often anymore.
--Jodi Mardesich, Puerto Rico
My husband likes me to be his human Rolodex and day-planner. He calls me in the middle of my workday to ask for phone numbers he could find on his own (like his barber or doctor). Or he asks me to remind him of appointment times and locations. I want to be helpful, but it gets frustrating sometimes. So, recently I answer by sharing ways he can keep track of his information on his own. I say in a patient tone: "You know this number can be found on YellowPages.com." Or "You can access that number faster if you log it into your cell phone." I even keep a calendar on the fridge which works as a quick visual reference.
--Courtney Macavinta, San Jose, California
I'm the 33-year-old single mom of a kindergartner and we spend a lot of time with traditional, nuclear families. I do not consider myself to be the jealous type, but every so often a pang of envy hits me. Why can't I have what they have? It's so easy to idolize these loving dads around me. But just when I feel myself sinking into that negative place of pity, my daughter appears and tickles me with her nose and whispers "Mama." Her loving presence keeps me patient.
-- Rachel Sarah, Berkeley, California
R.J. Jackson is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.
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