I always thought I was a patient person. Then I had kids, and my patience was tested…daily. Patience with myself. With my husband. With my kids. With the world. Patience has taken on an entirely new definition over the past three years, and with each moment that pushes my patience to the breaking point, I strive to remember that “this too shall pass.”
My older daughter is a smart, opinionated three year-old (well, actually three and a half – she’ll be the first to tell you that). Dinnertime with her goes from “more please” to “I don’t like that!” The pendulum can swing within a single meal… multiple times. My philosophy with meals, particularly dinner, is to create a balance of food she’ll like with new flavors, while hiding nutritious items in hopes that she’ll eat some semblance of a healthy meal. It’s much harder than I could possibly have imagined. (Just for reference, her younger sister would eat the plate if I’d let her.)
Tonight was the prime example of how quickly this pendulum can swing, and how intensely my patience can be tested. Before leaving for work, I set the crockpot to make a delicious (and surprisingly easy) Hawaiian chicken dish I’d seen on Pinterest. When I got home from work I roasted some broccoli and garlic, made quinoa, and (because I had a feeling that wouldn’t go over well) used some leftover rice and veggies to make a quick fried rice for the kids. As predicted, the little one loved the entire meal. And her big sister… well, not so much.
After a negotiation with my three year old about what she had to eat to be allowed to leave the table, we settled on a measly five bites of the fried rice (plus her fruit on the side). I gave her a solid combination of positive encouragement and tough love, and in the course of five bites (and 30 minutes), she gave me the following litany of excuses:
My finger hurts.
I need a bandaid.
I want to give you a hug.
I need more milk.
I need a minute.
I want to give my sister a hug.
I need you to be patient with me.
Can I just have a banana?
I don’t really feel like eating right now.
I’d rather eat later.
I thought you said three bites.
I want another hug.
I need more milk.
I need a tissue.
I need to pee.
My eye hurts.
My other eye hurts.
Can I put a bandaid on my eye?
When she (finally) finished her five bites and I took a few deep breaths (while thinking “She did it! I did it!”) and gave her another healthy dose of positive reinforcement, I took a step back to reflect on the less than awesome mealtime we’d just had.
The reality is that “this too shall pass.” One day it will be me begging her to take five bites with us before running off to meet her friends. And while yes, if it’s not this, it will be something else, I’m realizing how important it is to dig deep to find my patience so that I truly can enjoy every minute of this wild ride (and tolerate those that drive me too nuts to enjoy!).
How do you find your patience?