“I do it myself!” was a phrase I was hearing since Ninjette turned 18 months or so. In the beginning, it was pretty cute and so adorable. I admired her desire for independence and her valiant and persistent efforts.
Several months later (or maybe the next week), it wasn’t so cute. I no longer came to admire her desire for independence and her persistence was driving me a little crazy. We were late for everything. It took 100x longer to get going, get things done, or just do little things like scraping the ice off the windshield. We were probably not going to be able to get anywhere anytime soon. I contemplated how long this stage might last and wondered if I could wait it out. (At the age of 5, I’m still waiting for this stage to be over!)
The month prior to the onset of “I do it myself!”, I had read an article saying that the worst thing to say to your child was, “Hurry up!” Since I was trying really hard not to have Ninjette go to therapy later on in life and blame me for stuff, I had a zillion euphemisms for “Hurry up!” For example:
- Giddy up!
- Pick up the pace!
- Let’s race!
- We’re going to pretend to be super fast robots (or whatever you would like to be – it just has to be super fast)
- Zoom! Zoom!
I started to give ourselves a 60 minute buffer zone, but it was still never enough time. Maybe I should start with a 2 hour window! It has much improved, but I am still the mom who is cutting it close or late to everything. It’s frustrating, annoying, embarrassing, and it made me realize how impatient I had become.
I used to be the queen of patience. It took a lot before I would have a single negative thought or feeling, but after having a kid? My fuse seemed to have gotten much shorter.
I started to realize that being a parent meant things just would take longer. From the moment that I had to buckle Ninjette into a car seat or change a blowout and take off the onesie without getting poop all over yourself and your child (who invented the onesie anyway?!), I should’ve have known that my life of go-go would become slow-slow.
After all, this is a tiny human being that doesn’t know anything. She has to be taught how to be and act like a human being. I’ve been getting on my coat, tying my shoes, brushing my teeth, using the potty for over 30 years before she came along. That’s a lot of practice, right? She just started doing some of these things! It was a great reminder that my patience wasn’t just a luxury, but it was a necessity.
Every time she practiced putting on her own coat, struggled to put on her own clothes, made a mess trying to pour her own water, and tried to sound out the words of her book; she was developing her wings. These would be the stepping stones for eventual flight into her own.
My instinct is to immediately want to do all those things for her and to help her when she is struggling. It’s motivated by the fact that it takes her twice as long, but it’s also because of my desire as a parent to make her path easy, comfortable, and painless. But Ninjette doesn’t need that. She is like that butterfly coming out of the cocoon for the first time. She needs the struggle and the time to work out her wings so that she can fly and survive. So cliche, right? But so true. We can always take a lesson from nature.
The “Hurry up!” doesn’t come out of my mouth as often these days. Each moment, I make the conscious effort to stop and breathe before I react. (Look at that good role modeling I am doing for my kid!) After taking my breath, I remind myself to see Ninjette as the butterfly busting out of her cocoon. After all, she has only been on this earth for a mere five years.
Patience – it is truly an art. I leave you with some quotes that have inspired me to slow down and be patient:
“Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.” – Heraclitus
“He that can have patience can have what he will.” -Benjamin Franklin
“Patience and diligence, like faith, remove mountains.” -William Penn
What are some things you do to practice patience?