Thursday, April 16, 2009

Patience


I've said many times that I thought I was a patient person before I had kids. And initially, I was VERY patient with my first daughter, maybe until she was about two. I have a friend whose daughter is several years older than mine, and I used to shake my head at her tone of voice when scolding her daughter. I wondered why she sounded so annoyed at what seemed to be the smallest provocation.




After my second daughter was born, I started losing my temper on a semi-regular basis. I raised my voice, my tone was bad, and I said things that didn't make sense. I started to struggle to keep it together.



We've all seen those moms in stores who act like jackasses. I've given dirty looks to those moms but that was before I was one. Once, I was walking into Longs with both kids in the shopping cart. Daisy was needling me about something and I had just had enough. I stopped the cart, leaned over her and spit something out like, IF YOU DON'T STOP, I'M GOING TO ASK YOU TO LEAVE! As I looked up, I realized I had said that louder than I had intended, and there seemed to be two checkout lines of people glaring at me.



What I now realize is that even though I always thought I was patient like my mom, I'm really more like my dad. My mom loses her temper too, but it's not the same brand of anger as my dad. When we were little, my brothers and I gleefully pushed her over the edge many times, and she threatened us with her wooden spoon, yelling and half laughing. My dad can also be EXTREMELY patient in lots of situations, but when we were little kids - he wouldn't just get mad, he'd get even. I remember toys crashing against the wall on one occasion, and I kept that one on the Wrongs of My Parents list for years. Then, one day I found myself throwing My Little Ponies into my daughter's room with such force that they bounced off the wall. I guess it's my daughters' turn to hold the list.



Let me clarify that I don't excuse that kind of behavior. I just see how easy it is to go there. I always aspire to do better, but I also know what a pressure cooker life is and kids clamp down that lid even harder.



Last weekend, my daughters were to be flower girls in a wedding. My five year old did beautifully but I didn't get to see her because I was walking my screaming two year old as far away as possible, as her cries were echoing throughout the courtyard where the ceremony was to take place. I was upset to miss the big event but I had a firm grip on my patience at that point.



However, I did lose it about an hour before that . . . I arrive with the girls, running late as usual, and rush them to the room where the bride and her bridesmaids are getting ready. On our walk to the room, I realize that Violet has diarrhea halfway up her back and she wants me to carry her but I'm dressed up, so I really don't want to touch her. I encourage her to keep walking for about a third of a mile . . . Come on! You can do it. The girls are waiting for you! I have your fancy dress to put on. Come on. You can do it! When we get there, I am relieved to find that the other two-year-old flower girl has already thrown up in a corner of the room. I find out which corner so I can change Violet's diaper in the same area . . . you know, to contain the nastiness as much as possible.



I get the kids cleaned up and in their fancy white dresses with their white tights and little heels. The four flower girls all start running in circles on the cement. It's one of those situations where you're just waiting for someone to eat it bad, and I gulp down the glass of champagne that someone hands me.



We go outside for pictures and Violet ends up falling forward off a small ledge onto the cement below. She marks up her dress, snags her tights, scuffs her shoes and starts screaming. As I'm calming her down and cleaning her up, I keep telling my five year old to stop running with the bouquet she's to carry in the wedding. I hand my two year old her flowers and she suddenly gets mad because her bouquet is smaller than her sister's. She snaps it in two. I hear my older daughter crying. I turn around to find that she has decapitated the only big red rose in her bouquet. She doesn't want the flowers anymore and throws them in my direction.



I walk over to Daisy and say through gritted teeth, I TOLD you to stop running. This is your bouquet. There isn't another one. YOU HAVE TO CARRY THESE FLOWERS . . . AND STOP RUNNING! Both my daughters are miserable. A minute later, one of the bridesmaids approaches us. She's one of those people who radiates wisdom and goodness.



She says in the nicest tone, "Let me see those flowers. We're going to fix this rose." Then she turns to Daisy, "The only thing we have to worry about today is having fun . . . because we're princesses today." My daughter's face transforms and she takes the bouquet back. I take a deep breath, trying to exorcise the witch within. Yeah, what she said.



picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/randysonofrobert/515292352/

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