Desperately seeking patience

Childhood is as a series of phases. Some I never thought my children would get past. All that is required though (so far) is time and patience.

There were minor ones - like when C would wake up at 6am, and I'd half-sleep on the sofa next to her while she watched The Lion King II over and over and over. The music still sits hidden in my brain.

I was certain that we'd go broke keeping up with N's insatiable desire for Thomas trains.

Would C ever stop calling out for milk in the middle of the night? Long after I stopped breast feeding - and according to my father I did it longer than is socially acceptable (about 18 months) - she would wake up demanding a bottle. Until one day when T had had enough and cut her off cold turkey. That's when we realized she really could scream! She got past that.

Would N ever stop sucking his thumb? One of my friends once said that she sucked her thumb until she was 12 when she discovered cigarettes. Thankfully N wasn't quite that old.... he finally quit- in first grade! He's only 10 now, and hopefully he won't get a taste for cigarettes!

Yesterday I had a "doh!" moment: K-5 teachers prefer that you don't make your kid suffer through 90 minutes of math homework - if they take more than 30-40 minutes, send in a note. N would do a few problems and then whine. I'd catch him staring into space or something and yell. He'd tear up, say it was hard and he was thinking. I'd feel bad but yell again 2 minutes later when he was again distracted to get him back on track. He finished the homework eventually but the only thing he learned from it was that math can be painful. Exactly the lesson he doesn't need to experience.

C's phases seem to be a series of expensive, very time consuming activities. I rationalize that it is better than if she were staying home watching TV, but my life revolves around her timing. Yesterday, in the midst of me filling out forms and writing checks - many checks - for cheer leading competitions, she shoved a form into my hand. I sighed. It was for lacrosse... in the spring she wants to try lacrosse.  When did mothering mean being a chauffeur first and a parent second? Again - I need to look at the big picture. She is fortunate to be able to try new things. I'm fortunate to watch her.

This is all part of the grand scheme of life's phases. In the blink of an eye they will be gone to pursue their own lives, and I will suffer from the loss. But in the midst of it - today - I can't drag myself away enough to see the big picture. I just react in haste from situation to situation.

Things change: C doesn't even like milk anymore. N's trains are in a box in the basement. He stopped sucking his thumb, but still needs a reminder for brushing teeth. C sleeps beautifully through the night, and gets herself up every school day before 6am. She still can't drive, so this phase will last many more years but it isn't a bad thing - I love to hear her and her friends sing together in the car.

Patience apparently comes naturally to some. The patience that gets you through difficult patches. At work, with friends, with marriage, with family. What would my life look like if I were more patient by nature?

I keep yearning for something new. A new job - a new adventure. I need the patience to appreciate this phase: rides, homework, sleepovers, misunderstandings, rushed dinners where someone always complains about the food. Someday I'll be beyond this phase, be cooking whatever I want, eating whatever I want, whenever I want. Not stressing over my kids and their school work. But, remind me now: I'll miss this later. Just as I miss singing to my kids each night, or making homemade baby food, or walking proudly with my babies in a pram wishing they would go to sleeeeep so I could get some rest. Poof it's gone!

I know I went through phases myself: I used to line up the vegetables in my Cambell's soup, making an unwanted mess. I refused to let my Mom wash or brush my hair - my neighbor had to come do it. And I absolutely refused to keep my room neat. I think I'm still in that phase.... I'm the stay-at-homer with the messiest house in Bridgewater... it's just a phase though!

And so is the worry of each day. N's homework is complete. Another baby-step in phase "school age". Far from the last math assignment! There's plenty yet to come. I've said it before: patience is a virtue but it's not my strong suit! I better stock up on it. Otherwise I will look back and wonder why I squandered what really are the best days of my life.....

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