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Finding patience when you lose it

Today I realized I’ve lost something very important.

My patience.

I didn’t see it when I called my kids three times into the kitchen for their lunch but no one came until I stomped into the living room, snapped the TV shut and glared around menacingly.

I didn’t find it in the basement under the mountain of toys, the video games tossed around like garbage and the lego pieces scattered all over the floor. It definitely wasn’t under the one I stepped on.

It was nowhere in sight when my husband told me our baseball schedule for the next week… Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, Monday and maybe but not definitely Wednesday.

Nor was it anywhere to be seen when my kids continuously tried to prolong staying up, even though at 11pm it was already past my bed time, by moving so slowly to wash up, then calling for drinks and snacks. I couldn’t even find it in the warm, extra hugs they tried to extract.

It certainly wasn’t under the table when I went to pick up the fork my son dropped and then banged my head.

Or in the sink under a pile of dishes.

I didn’t even bother looking for it by my father. No way I’d find it there.

Where o where was it?

For many years I gave everything, did everything and accepted everything. I had more of my patience but less of me, and it was all good. It was how it was supposed to be.

Now I feel a shift. I’m finding myself, making my needs and wants count. There will always be the household chores, moments of frustration, and times where you need more strength than others, but now that my kids are a bit older, all of a sudden I feel they’re supposed to get with the program, even though up until recently the program was I do everything.  It’s not their fault. These things take time. I’ve changed the channel on them, and I guess I no longer have tolerance for any other.

Still it’s coming. I see it when my children bring their dishes to the sink without reminder, automatically brush their teeth and get themselves dressed in the morning, make an effort to be nicer to each other, listen by only the second time I ask. And who wouldn’t smile when the kid covered in chocolate swears he ate none.

Of course there’s still…

“Mommy, I wanna build a set up with you!”

“Mommywatch me!Mommywatchme!Mommywatchme!”

“Where are my socks?”


“He won’t stop touching me!”

“Make him stop siiiiiingingggg!”

But we’re getting there…


Could my patience be hiding in here?

Could my patience be hiding in here?

When do I get to have my tantrum?

He was 16 months when he stood with me in the kitchen, asking for an “Ookie.”

“No cookies now. After dinner. Okay?”  I said and away he toddled.

A moment later I found him on the floor in the hall, writhing and screaming. Immediately, I was alarmed. What was happening? Should I call a doctor? What was he doing?

I bent down. “Baby? What’s the matter? Are you okay? Baby?”

Still squirming like Linda Blair from the Exorcist, he wailed, “Wan ookie!!”

Huh? Was this a tantrum? It was my first. My older son had never had one. I watched with fascination.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. This was the same child who when I tried sleep training, absolutely trained me. I didn’t think a seven month old could cry that long and continuously. Ultimately, I spent the next two years sitting at the base of his crib every night until he fell asleep. Well trained, but not exactly what I was going for.

When we potty trained, it was the same business. Forget the stickers or M&M’s. No bribery, reason or compromise could make him go. Finally, I threw my hands in the air and gave up. The next day, he decided he was ready and went on his own.

Now eight years-old, he is my most charming, social and independent child. Yet he is still a spit fire, who has spent the last seven years mastering his button pushing technique. He no longer writhes on the floor, now his tantrums are much more manipulative and exhausting.

Yesterday, when we were about to leave, he decided that he didn’t want to go to his brother’s baseball game. While I understood, frankly, he had no choice.

I took a deep breath. “We are going. Please don’t make this difficult.”

Hands over the ears. “Lalalalala! I can’t hear you!”

I hate when he does that.

“Your friends will be there.” I said nicely, through gritted teeth.


“I’m going to have to take away your iTouch.”

“Good! Take it! I don’t want it anyway!”

“Come on!” I practically begged.

He went to hide behind a chair. “NO! You can’t make me!”

That was it. I could make him and sadly, I showed him how, by dragging him by the arm into the car.

His little body felt even lighter than the fifty pounds it was. He screamed the whole time and embarrassingly, I screamed back.

Once in the car, I took deep breaths. I was so angry, I couldn’t speak. I was mad at him and at myself. He was making me a bad parent, I thought spitefully.

Why not blame the eight year-old?

“Baby,” I said calmly. “None of that was okay. I’m sorry I lost my temper.”

He just shrugged. “Okay, me too.” Now that he was in the car, the drama was over. “When do you think I can get my iTouch back?” he asked sweetly.

He can turn off as quick as he turns it on. I’ll give him that.

He has always been unbreakable, but every so often it would nice if he could just give me a break.

I know it's hard to believe.

I know it’s hard to believe.