Monday, May 2, 2011

A Lesson in Patience

I have always struggled with my patience. I used to hate waiting at red lights, grocery stores, and anywhere else that didn't instantly get me on my way. I also had a system for everything which meant that I hated interruptions as much as I hated waiting. I would often stop and think, "I am in so much trouble when I have children." Needless to say, when we decided to have children, I prayed for patience almost as often as I prayed for a healthy baby and a smooth delivery. If I can't wait at a red light without tapping my toe and muttering "any day now," then how can I possibly handle midnight crying, diaper blowouts, and temper tantrums? I prayed in the hopes that God would give me a lesson in patience to prepare me for parenthood. As it turns out, parenthood was the lesson.

I used to say that I didn't know if I could handle certain aspects of parenting. People would say to me what every parent says to every non-parent, "it's different when it's your own kid." For as cliche of a statement as that is, wow, is it ever true! I never thought I would sing my way through poopy diaper changes, or laugh as an entire bowl of applesauce hits the floor. I never thought I would excitedly grab the camera when I discovered that she had unfolded all of  my clean laundry, or sing about all of Old McDonald's animals multiple times a day. And I really never thought I would find just as much joy in the difficult times as I do in the easy ones. It really is different because it's my own kid. And as I get more and more patient with Reese, I get less and less impatient with everything else. After all, by the time I change her diaper, rinse the poop off her old clothes, wrestle her into new clothes, clean the applesauce off the floor, stop her from unfolding the laundry, and sing "Old McDonald's had a farm..." all the way to the store, who cares about a couple of red lights or a long checkout line?

It's funny how I thought motherhood would totally zap any patience I had left, but it has restored my patience in a way I never thought possible. As I prepare to enter the toddler years with Reese and someday bring more children into our family, I hope I don't forget how much happier I am when I go with the flow and see the humor in my challenges. And I hope I remember that all of my future struggles with potty training, picky eating, discipline, sibling rivalry, and teenagers are all just another opportunity to learn a lesson in patience.

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