Patience and Parenting go hand-in-hand. But we know from experience, it doesn’t happen as often as we would like it to. Parenting is hard, and there are no hard and fast rules to follow and make this easier.
It’s a journey, and we learn from our experiences, and our mistakes.
What is patience? The dictionary defines patience as “the capacity to bear pains or trials calmly or without complaint,” and “remaining steadfast despite opposition, difficulty or adversity.”
Patience is a powerful tool. It makes parenting easy and challenging. It’s both an attitude and an ability. It’s not always to remain calm and deal rationally with every day-to-day problem. We lose patience and sometimes end up raising our voices at our children. The result – a guilty parent, and a traumatized child.
Sharing a chapter from my parenting journey, a simple episode, but it left behind a learning for a lifetime… I understood the value of patience and realized patience and parenting go hand-in-hand!
‘Are you not going to scold me?’
My 10-year-old daughter couldn’t believe her eyes and ears. She had spilled milk on the kitchen counter. Again! Like almost every other day! But unlike other days, I said, ‘wipe it or else it will stink.’ And I resumed cooking.
The colorless dal morphed into a bright yellow as the turmeric and dal became one. The bright yellow reminded me of a sunny day from a few weeks ago. The day when the sun truly shone on me. The day darkness left me.
It was a regular rushed morning–cooking, cleaning, packing lunch boxes and water bottles. I had recently started volunteering in a school for children with autism and had to board the 7.55 bus. The clock was ticking faster every moment, and my blood pressure was rising at an even faster pace.
‘Good morning Amma,’ my daughter greeted me walking in rubbing her eyes. Too engrossed to even properly respond, I gave her a glass of milk and focused on the pending tasks.
Clang, the stainless-steel tumbler dropped on the floor. A chocolate river flowed on the floor randomly. And for some unknown reason, the river burst out like a volcano, spewing lava of harsh words.
‘Why are you so careless?’ I screamed at the petrified child. ‘Sorry, Amma,’ she whispered, trembling with fear. Tiny drops spilled from her eyes. But my rage blinded me. And I refused to accept that it was a minor incident, an accident. Venomous words gushed out with a fury.
Don’t cry over spill milk, the adage rang in my ears. But I ignored it and continued my tirade. Scolding and screaming at the little one. Losing track of time, not realizing the magnitude of my words.
I barely made it to the bus stop on time.
But once at school, working with other children, I forgot all about the morning’s incident. Until a parent quipped, ‘Chandra you are so patient. Forever smiling, always helping. Your kids are really lucky.’ Another lady said, ‘It’s so draining working with kids with disabilities but you never lose your calm.’
That was a hard slap in my face.
The ride back home was hard. It’s difficult to face our flaws. But I had to do it. When my daughter’s teary-eyed face floated in front of my eyes, I felt ashamed of myself. It was easier and natural for me to be patient and kinder towards others’ kids, but with mine, I was a different person altogether.
‘Amma, I wiped it,’ my daughter’s voice brought me to the present. She embraced me in her tiny arms, and chirped, ‘I love you more today!’
Her sparkling eyes were my reward. I was putting in efforts consciously to be more patient and understanding with my child.
I have many more lessons to learn in my parenting journey. These are the teeny-tiny pearls of wisdom I’ve gained so far –
Things are breakable. Children are precious. Handle them with loads of love.
My kids will not listen to me always. They will disagree and argue. After all, they have brains of their own.
It’s easier to scream, and more difficult to listen. I like challenges!
Screaming and then crying because of guilt is no fun.
Respond with love or react with anger – not a tough choice to make!
And my secret and favorite learning – Imagine they are the neighbour’s children and not mine. Obviously, I cannot scream at them! It helps me calm down and listen to my kids’ viewpoint without reacting.
Of course, I am miles away from being a perfect parent (not sure if such a thing even exists or if it’s just a myth!) but I am making efforts and taking one day at a time.