We’re late for something and she won’t put her shoes on. I’m starving and I have to pee and I am carrying a hot bag of food and she won’t climb out of the car. She’s “stuck.” And did I mention I’m starving and I have to pee and I’m pregnant? She’s in the bath and she won’t let me wash her hair. It’s getting later and she won’t stay in her bed.
Mothering a three year-old makes me crazy occasionally. I only have so much patience in a day. I can only say “let’s go” and “come on” and “PLEASE?” so many times before the venom creeps into my voice. I hate how my voice sounds when I’m angry. I’ve heard it on videotape. I make myself cringe. Worse than chunky fingernails on a crusty old chalkboard.
Yet I can’t always stop myself. It’s like an evil witch jumps in and takes over when I’ve reached the end of my mommy stripes, like I have a split personality. Sweet and kind and fun-loving mama versus impatient and annoyed and irritated mother. But no matter what, both of those personalities belong to me. Though it feels like I don’t have control, I do. I must. I am accountable.
Tonight, Giovanna wouldn’t settle in her bed. She repeatedly slid out to find books and toys and distractions. Every time I caught her, I reminded her to get back in bed and she complied. Eventually I had to go into her room and scold her for disobeying. I was fed up and stressed out because she skipped her nap despite my best efforts. I worried that the longer she kept herself up, the harder it would become for her to slip into dreamland. I knew my voice had turned rotten but I didn’t know how else to make her stop. She started to cry. Real tears, real sadness. So I kissed her and held her and told her how much I love her, though I am fairly certain a mother cannot express her love in words.
As she fell asleep soon after that, she cried out. It was just one cry and it didn’t last long and it was followed immediately by sleep, but it left me feeling guilty. I tip toed into her room and kissed her again and laid my hand upon her resting belly. I wished she could awaken just for a moment, so that she could hear my apology. I prayed for her sweet dreams. And I prayed for myself.
Every time Gigi has a tantrum over something silly, I can’t help it, I think it’s my fault. Perhaps if I were more level-headed and less likely to lose my patience over the inconsequential then she would be, too. Sometimes I get it right and it doesn’t matter how far we are from home when she decides to get mud all over her pants (see photo above), I laugh and I deal with it. It all depends on my state of mind when it happens–another reason to care for my mental health first.
Recently I have found that when I’m getting close to the edge but I haven’t tumbled over it yet, talking to myself seems to help. Don’t freak out. It won’t help anything. Walk away. Take the deepest breath you can fathom.
I’m sharing this because it’s something I’m working on, something I believe to be important for my family and myself. I want to have more patience. It’s got to exist somewhere inside of me that I have yet to find. If you have any tips or tricks, please share.