Almost as much as I want to be a loving parent, I want to be a patient parent.
In a way, I think they are often one and the same. It takes a lot of love to hold in a groan when your exhausted child won’t fall asleep or spits up again or bites you because they are teething.
I’m not saying that you love them any less if you do lose your cool, but for me, patience is a virtue that is hard won.
Ever since Vivi was born, I’ve found that I have so much more patience than I ever knew I had before. Sure, some of this newfound patience is because Vivian is just so darn easy to love, but mostly it’s because I work at it. I work hard at it. I actively remind myself that losing my cool won’t help, that she doesn’t understand frustration, that I can easily laugh off just about anything.
There’s another big keeping-my-cool factor for me: being a stay-at-home mom. Before Vivi, I was pretty much a workaholic, and my days were long. By the end of most work days I was completely wiped out. I used to marvel at people who went out for drinks or dinner on a “school night”. I didn’t have the energy to do much of anything when my work day ended. I just wanted to zone out on the couch.
I would joke and tell Brad, “I used up all of my good will at work today”, but most days it was less a joke and more a fact. My patience was stretched thin, and I was irritable and sullen. I didn’t like that me, but I had a really hard time balancing. People would tell me to “just do what you need to get by at work… don’t take it so seriously”. That’s just not me. You can’t put the proverbial carrot in front of me and expect me not to chase it. Let’s be frank: I want to do the job right, and if possible, do it better than everyone else, all the while trying to be likeable. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
It’s not possible to be perfect. Not everyone will like you. I know these things to be true, but I push, push, push myself to be more, to be better.
The decision to leave my outside-of-the-home job was a tough one. Despite my work/life balance struggles, I really did love most facets of my job. In my heart, however, I knew I wouldn’t be the parent I wanted to be if I kept working. I couldn’t be half of one and half of another; something was going to get less of the better version of me, and I sincerely worried it would be the family half of the equation.
So many people work and are wonderful parents. They do their job well, go home with a smile, get dinner on the table, and even squeeze in quality time before the kids go to bed. I have the highest praise for those people – especially the ones who do it because they have no other choice. The ones who want to cry but keep right on smiling… the ones who are exhausted but let their little one read one more story. Those are parents that I strive to be like.
Every day I count my blessings that I am able to stay at home with Vivian. Every little sacrifice along the way is worth being here with her – not just being here but the best version of me being here.
A few days ago Brad wrote a guest post on the blog, and he said something to the effect of “I’m made of patience”. Little did he know, I’d started this post a few days before but hadn’t yet finished it. That simple statement… “made of patience”… made me cry. It was the best compliment he could have given me.