I may be the most impatient parent in the entire world. It’s not something I’m proud of but it’s the truth. When I’m ready to go, come on let’s go. If we are shopping or running errands, please child. Bring. Your. Tail. Over. Here. I don’t need you to touch everything on the shelf, twirl it around 3 and half times on your tippy toes before taking a step, rearrange the clothes on the hangers or attempt to do super speed cart wheels down the aisle. When I say get ready for bed, it doesn’t mean stand in the hall way out of my line of vision but still in view of the TV. When I ask you to do a chore, please don’t make me repeat myself well I’m prying your iPod from your hands. Just listen and do what I ask of you puhhleasse.
To make it worse, my son has ADHD. So often times, he really truly can’t help his energy level or his lack of attention. And his growing sense of independence is another whole nerve plucking problem in itself. Sure it’s a beautiful thing to see my son becoming this little person with his own incredible view on the world around him. But the more opinions he develops it seems the more he thinks he has the right to question and argue with me. “Why do I have to go to bed at 8:30? I’m not even tired. I don’t really like muffins anymore, I want something else to eat. Why do have to wear jeans? You know I like to wear sweatpants now. Well actually you’re wrong about that word mom, it’s not Latin it’s Greek. I’m learning about Greek mythology and we borrowed a lot of our language from them. Plus my friend is Greek so I would know.” It’s like there is a never ever ending list of quick comebacks to any direction I give him coupled with this burning desire to always be right about everything (he certainly doesn’t get that from me right?) Mix that with the fact that Kameron may be slightly dramatic and a little sensitive (again…the apple doesn’t fall far…)sometimes we have some very difficult moments. I know it’s all normal. Eight year old boys are designed to lose focus and test their mother’s limits. I know you other parents understand. I know you guys know parenting is difficult.
But what I’m even more ashamed of than my impatience is that in those difficult moments I can become so easily frustrated with him. Here he is, literally just being an average eight year old boy and I’m all over him. “Sit down. Settle down. Stop interrupting. Don’t argue with me. Just come on Kameron.” My frustration upsets him (and he’s dramatic remember) which in turn is frustrating to me which in turn upsets him. Vicious Cycle.
A few months ago in the midst of one of these moments of frustration, I found myself desperate to find a solution. I don’t want to be an impatient mother. I don’t want to be one who gets frustrated in situations that don’t necessarily call for frustration. I don’t want Kameron to get upset. I don’t want to make him feel any less that the kind, energetic inquiring mind that he is. I want him to learn how to handle situations with a kind heart and gentle hand, to never lose his cool. And the truth of the matter was I was failing to be that example.
My mind went back to a statement my Pastor had made in a recent sermon. He said a grateful heart can’t be an angry heart. It was something I’d heard probably a trillion times before. But in that moment I was convicted to put it into action. It seemed silly. It seemed unrelated to the issue at hand but I needed something to shift both mine and Kameron’s focus and help us both regain our composure. So I say “Kameron. Stop and tell me 10 things you are grateful for.” The look I got back was one of pure confusion. I smiled and responded “It’s going to be hard to stay upset or frustrated if we are busy thinking of all the good things in our life.”
Kameron began to rumble off his list. I don’t remember everything but included me, his grandparents, Jesus and his iPod. When he was finished I started to tell him some of the things I was grateful for. And I didn’t get super holy. I remember telling him I was grateful we got to make slime together that weekend, well because it was super fun and I was truly thankful I get to do silly things like make slime with my son. And I began to remember that even though in the moment he was driving me up a wall, this was the same kid who most of the time was making me laugh, dropping some profound bomb of eight year old wisdom or attacking me with hugs telling me I am the best mom over. Before you know it, he and I were both holding our stomachs in a fit of laughter at some story that spiraled from one of things on my list. And just like that, no more frustration and no more tears.
I think that was the first time in my life I had put the whole “be thankful” concept into immediate action. Sure I gave thanks and recognize things I am grateful for all the time. In fact, I wrote a post on my birthday with a list of things I’m thankful for. But I had never thought about the effects being thankful could have on your attitude in the moments your attitude needed an adjustment. Just 5 minutes of intentional gratefulness reminds you that the fact your kid is running through the hallway while you’re at work on the phone and ends up in a puddle of tears when you have to repeatedly ask him to stop is really in all actually, trivial. It’s nothing to lose your patience over. And instead of teaching my son to let impatience become irritation and lose his cool in situations, I can use our new little trick to show him that a grateful heart is how he needs to remain positioned through all of life’s frustrations.
It’s something that I know I need to put in better practice. I know I lack consistency. But I’ve vowed to do better. I have vowed to let a grateful heart transform me into a more patient mother. Because that’s what my son deserves.