Patience is NOT a virtue I actually have. I fake it most days. Inside, I’m usually screaming because I have things to do. Sometimes I’m screaming on the outside, too.
Raising a kid takes a TON of patience.
Even the most well-behaved child requires extreme levels of patience. Throw in a little neurodivergence and the patience needed is exponential.
This picture is me trying patiently not to scream at my child to let me brush her hair after swim class yesterday.
She always wants to do EVERYTHING by herself, which is wonderful and will serve her well some day. But, right now, in this photo, I just really wanted to brush the knots out of the back of her hair, the ones she couldn’t reach, and then leave swim class and head to the grocery store. Instead, I was on minute 30 of a three-minute task while she worked through her own hair.
I wanted to snatch the brush out of her hand soooo badly. So much so that I kept suggesting over and over again that she let me help. And could she hurry up. And maybe she could just give me the brush. And on and on I went. To the point where we were visibly bickering and I had to walk away from her to calm down.
I went to the seating next to the hair station and thought to myself, “Fine, have knots in your hair, I don’t care!” Obviously from the fit I was throwing, I did care!
I sent my husband a text that I was trying not to strangle our child after swim because she wouldn’t let me brush her hair out. After laughing and empathizing with me, his response was “Pam, just let it go, and let her do it”. And he was right, of course. 🙄
But the Mom in me and the controlling personality in me wanted to do it “right.”
I didn’t want to have to wash and brush her hair again later when it was knotted up still. I had a reason for my madness, she wasn’t doing it “correctly,” and I wanted it handled now. I had too many things to do later and I didn’t want this added to my plate.
I know so many of you parents know that feeling. It was frustrating me because if she would just let me have the brush and relax, I could have had it done in three minutes and we would’ve already been out the door. Hence the blow up that had me sitting pouting in the lobby chair.
Sure, I made my point that I could do it better and she should just let me do it quickly. But at what cost? Her confidence? Her independence? Our relationship? Was the few minutes saved by me doing it worth it? Was the yelling worth it? Once I calmed down enough to think straight, I realized it was not.
We had no actual timeline to keep so me rushing her was truly just my own lack of patience.
So instead of taking the brush and insisting I do it, I went over to her and talked her through how to reach the knots in the back of her hair. She actually ended up doing a pretty good job on her own and she asked me to take a picture. The only thing it took from me was patience and a smidge of extra time.
Trying to be a good parent isn’t anything special or superhuman. I make mistakes constantly. I yell or lose my temper. I have a complete lack of patience. I try to control way too much, but I also know this about myself. I reverse course. I make amends. I force myself to calm down and regulate. I go back over and compliment her on what a great job she is doing.
At the end of the day, I’m raising a human who will hopefully remember how good her mom and dad made her feel, how much confidence they gave her, not how much I rushed her to hurry out the door. We keep showing up and trying every day, even when our patience has run thin. That’s what parenting is to me.