Friday, August 1, 2014

Patience: An Acquired Trait

I have been a mother for almost 25 years. I had my first child when I was 22. Now that I am almost 47 I can see how immature I was. This is not a post about beating myself up, but one about growth.

Recently while learning how to use a microscope with my girls I started thinking about patience. I was thinking how smooth it was all going. How we were having a lot of fun. How did I get here?

I was born without any patience. I think we all were. Unfortunately for me I was the oldest child to young parents. My mother had me when she was 20.  I am pretty sure she had very little patience if any at all. I remember her loosing it pretty easily. Looking back on things I have realized that the things she and my father, and of course us kids, lost our patience about were pretty petty. Someone chewing too loud, a screen door closing with a noise, spilling milk.

As a new mom I tried very hard to do things just right. I was pretty alternative compared to my own parents. There were a few things I didn't like about the way I was raised. I think I did 'turn out' pretty good so it wasn't all bad. I think I am a perfectionist and wanted to raise my family the best I could. Nothing against my parents, I just made different choices.

Now my youngest children are 10 and 7. They are both girls. I am much more patient and much more mature than I was with three little boys 5, 3, and newborn. I wish I had more patience back then. I feel things may have been a little more fun, more relaxed. I think the girls are much more patient than the first two boys were. Maybe patience is acquired more easily when you have patient people around you. You know, all that role modeling stuff.

Of course it wasn't all my own patience in play. My husband and I were just starting out our life together. We were not good at managing our money. We were not skilled in the ways of the world. We were not mature enough yet. We rented apartments, moved, rented another. Luckily my husband's work was consistent, but it didn't pay a lot. We were just learning to raise our children. There was a huge amount of stress and sadness in my parents' life which effected me in mine. My husband battled dependency with alcohol and pot. There were 'expectations' from his family to visit often and it seemed it was never enough. Bottom line, there was a lot of shit going on in a small amount of time and it slowed down my growth.

Fast forward 15 years. We have our own beautiful house with a little bit of land. My husband has risen up through his job, changed companies a few times and now has a position he has always wanted. He is very good at his job and likes it. I have continued to 'stay home' and raise our family and support our household by keeping things going on the homefront. My husband no longer has dependency issues. I don't even remember how long it has been since he stopped drinking. I think going on 20 years. We still do not have a lot of money but we know how to manage what we do have and we have learned frugality and self sufficiency. We live too far to feel obligated to visit his family so often. His mother passed and the family has not really been the same since. I have learned to filter my families problems. My mother has passed away since as well. Pretty much time has passed, we have 'matured' and along the way have acquired patience. Over the years I have learned to sew, quilt, garden, raise chickens, and recently learned knitting. All of these things have helped me find ways of being more patient.

It isn't that simple though. Nothing ever is. There are many more things at play in acquiring patience. I surrounded myself around people that were amazing human beings. The first and best was La Leche League members. Second of all were homeschooling families. Staying in one town for a long time has helped me make long lasting friendships with strong, wise, and loving women. The three women that I love the most are the most giving, forgiving, and patient women I have ever met. They have taught me well. Raising 5 children played a huge part in my acquiring patience. If you are going to create a happy, loving home you just have to be patient and show patience.

I do still 'lose my shit' as they say. I am learning that it happens when I am under emotional or hormonal stress or when I feel rushed. Sometimes you can't control everything. At 47 I am on the edge of menopause ( I hope ) and believe it or not in the last few years I am just learning how my cycles work and how that effects my moods and emotions. I only wish I would have learned that long ago. I now have no qualms about telling anyone who who will listen that my hormones are to blame for my mood. Usually. As far as the emotional stress I am learning to let things go more. Letting the things I cannot control go. Understanding someone else's sadness or frustration but not taking it on. Offering to help when I can, but also learning to just listen and not offer any help or suggestions. I still struggle with wanting the best for my children. I get impatient for them. I wonder when they will achieve this or that. Wonder when they will understand their own life and grow. These are not my things to take on. I am only here to support and love.

Speaking of children. Raising them of course forces one to acquire patience, but they each have taught me so much about living life and being a better person. Each stage that they go through teaches me something new. New books, philosophies, politics,  the arts, ways of life.

All of these things have helped mold me into this person I am becoming. I am not the most patient person, but I am so much more than I have ever been.

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