Tuesday, February 7, 2012

love is patient

Early this evening as I sat downstairs at my laptop, attempting to cram in 15 minutes of work while S was catnapping and I was preparing to have to rush through a bottle, oatmeal and 2 bedtimes, Little L was upstairs in her playroom quietly emptying the entire contents of a bottle of hand lotion out on herself, her toys, the carpet, the walls and any other nearby surface.

I was blissfully unaware until she appeared next to me, covered from head to toe in a thick, white substance and smelling like a blend of almond and up-to-no-good. It took me a moment to realize what had happened and then I casually noticed the trail she'd brought down the stairwell and tile with her.


I picked her up and carried her upstairs to survey the damage and frustratingly asked "Why did you do this?" (we've had the talk about this particular bottle of lotion before--the only one in the house within her reach--and she always knew it was to be given by mommy only) She simply looked at me blankly and said "I dunno." She sat there quietly and watched as I cleaned the mess up and obediently followed me to her bathroom for a bath, pajamas and early bedtime with no story. I received a meek apology and no arguments or contention about being put to bed an hour early.

Last week a friend of ours posted a picture on FB of her 3 year old child next to a "reward chart" and stickers for certain tasks she did around the house. I actually laughed out loud as I read the chart, snickering to myself that most of those things are tasks I've simply expected Little L to do without question or reward since she was old enough to walk.  And then I checked myself for being judgmental of another parent and asked myself "Am I too hard on my daughter?" My husband, who is also friends with this person on FB, also happened to see that picture a few days later and of his own will mentioned it to me. I asked him if he thought I was too hard on Little L and he paused and answered "sometimes."

It was a moment of awareness for me. One that has been building and coming for a matter of weeks. I'm not necessarily a mean, bossy slave driver or expect this child to be performing quadratic equations at the ripe old age of 3, but rather I do NOT expect her to do some of the frustrating 3 year old things that often come out of her. And then I get REALLY frustrated and bothered when she does act like she, by nature, should. She's slow and incredibly picky about everything being "just so" and I am always in a hurry to get everywhere. I DETEST being late. In fact, it is one of life's greatest stresses for me. And I am constantly stressing to her how much we are running late or how difficult she is making the process of getting out the door by insisting that SHE put her shoes on herself when I can do it 4 times faster.

I was recently doing a bible study in 1 Corinthians and came across a footnote in my bible regarding love "being patient." The gist was basically that often times we get irritated by others and that irritable treatment of other people is always wrong, even if the feeling isn't necessarily sinful. Most irritability in our lives stems from a love of perfection; a desire that we have to make sure everything in our lives runs perfectly or in accordance with our own, individual preferences. I cannot summarize the next part, it was too poignant for me....
"Those who are easily irritated need to remember that perfection exists only in God. We need to love Him and our fellow Christians, not the visions we have for perfection here on earth."
This was simply a footnote in my bible and it REALLY hit me. HARD. I've been really convicted by this lately, in SO MANY areas of my life. Especially with my children and my husband. Also with my friends, family and even strangers. People in traffic driving slow in the fast lane or people who ask me too many questions in the elevator or people who don't think the way I think. I am often SO quick to be irritated by others and I really need to work on this part of my spirit.

Instead of getting extremely angry over the lotion thing tonight I apologized to her for leaving a bottle of lotion within her reach. I explained to her that I set boundaries for her in order to keep her from getting herself in to trouble. I told her she was being punished with an early bedtime and no story for breaking my rules but that I loved her very much and I hope tomorrow will be a day without her getting in to any trouble.

Do I think there's any chance of that? Nah, not really. But I am going to work really hard on not getting so irritated with her for doing the things a 3 year old will do and I will give her more credit for the wonderfully obedient things she does of her own accord without receiving reward or praise. Because I know the coming year is going to be a real challenge for us both.


  1. I love this, so so much. We've had some challenging mornings with B lately, and I really needed to read this post. If we're in a rush to get out the door, it's a struggle. The more we push him to hurry, the more he resists and the slower he goes. I've really had a heart change about my expectations and I was questioning if I was doing everything I could to set him up for success. I was letting him get a few extra precious minutes of sleep and only waking him up when I was fully ready... but that meant he only had about 10 minutes to be fully alert, dressed, and out the door. And who wants to do that? So I've started opening his door earlier so he can wake up on his own - even if it means MY time is interrupted as I help him with his morning tasks to get ready to leave. This morning was pleasant and he was happy and giving me big goodbye squeezes. It's HARD to realize that they aren't always going to fit into the box we're making for them, and I'm so thankful that I've been shown grace and hopefully can extend that to them. xo

  2. ohh patience. I have a mantra I say over and over to myself:

    breathe in patience, breathe out love

    I try to think of this when I feel like snapping, and i snap more then i like to admit! But it is so very hard to be patient especially as a parent.

    I am not expert, but what helps me is my little mantra and really honestly stoping and putting myself in my kids shoes. Their little minds can't mulitask like ours and if they are thinking of something or trying to do something (that is SOO important to them, but so unimportant to us, like finishing the lego tower, or putting on their own coat) they can't listen and understand our request while they are dealing with the thoughts going on in their brains. I often calm down after thinking about all the info that tiny person is trying really hard to digest and I find helping them finish their task first, gets the task I need done faster because they are focused on me. Because truly they really want to please us and have us be happy with them!

    haha does that make sense? Just my strategy, because patience is one of my biggest challenges.

  3. this has been something I too have been working on. We are so blessed to have a truly GOOD kid on our hands, one who generally listens very well and obeys our requests/rules - which almost makes it harder to remmber she isn't even three yet. That sometimes, she just does things that a toddler does. It has been FAR easier for me to check my patience level with working outside of the home - i just have more in my patience bank when i get home - so if she doesn't pick up her toys or is dragging her feet in getting ready for bed, i find myself able to stay MUCH calmer.

    but it is literally a concious effort on my part - i repeat in my head, "calm voice, bright eyes" because i know the more frustrated i get, the more frustrated seh gets. Doesn't always work - but i yell MUCH less and feel like things are "clicking" more in her mind.

  4. I love this post! I'm constantly having to remind myself of my children's ages. I am also way harder on Elaina than the others because she is the firstborn and I expect her to be "the oldest and set an example for her siblings". But she's only SIX and sometimes I forget that. I loved the book "Birth Order" and it really gave me a ton of AHA moments. I try to be more fair and while Elaina does have higher expectations they are expectations that are age appropriate.

    When Elaina was 2 and would get into lotion, for example, I would've probably made her clean up the majority of it, scold her, put her in time out, etc. And I feel terrible about it now, in retrospect. She was just a baby! But when Zoe does it as a 2-year-old now? I laugh. She still has to help clean up her mess but we do it with laughter instead of tears.

    Okay that was like a blog post in itself. Your post is just a great reminder of needing to be more patient, more kind and more conscious of my children's ages.

  5. OH MY GOODNESS! I have missed you! For some reason, my phone's bookmark was stuck on your 2011 review post. Even though I was checking weekly, I just thought you hadn't updated. Today it became unstuck, and I found LOADS of BIG posts from you.
    This post is wonderful, and it is a terrific reminder for me as well. That is one great footnote.
    I am going to finish reading the rest of February, update my Trendy Minivan bookmark (and add it to Google reader), and move my lotion off my nightstand.