I Used To Be A Patient Person -- Then I Had Kids

I Used To Be A Patient Person — Then I Had Kids

September 17, 2019 Updated October 8, 2019

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“I lose it on my kids at least a few times a day,” my neighbor said to me once while our kids were playing in the street.

This was 16 years ago, and I’ll never forget his words. Or what I was wearing. Or the direction the sun was shining. Not only did I feel so validated because I too would lose it on my kids just as much, the man venting to me was one of the most laid-back, patient people I’d ever met.

He was an elementary school teacher—the fun one all the kids hoped for. The one who never seemed to get irritated and always had his game face on. And here he was telling me he struggled being home with his two girls during the Summer while his wife worked.

I used to be a patient person before I had kids. One afternoon, I literally sat on my floor and made about 100 tiny clothespin dolls to give away as Christmas gifts. I cut out tiny clothes and sewed them together. I glued separate strands of hair on their head. I painted perfect faces on each ball of the clothes pin, then individually wrapped them in tissue paper and adorned them with ribbons.

My back and ass hurt, but I didn’t waver. My hands stayed steady. I fought the good fight because I was patient with myself and the fucking strands of hair which had static-cling and a mind of their own.

There’s no way I could accomplish that kind of shit today. I Amazon Prime all my gifts these days because my patience has left the damn building and run far away.

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I never used to have a problem waiting in traffic, either. I’d sit and relax and watch the people around me and notice them jamming in their car, what they were wearing, or if they were picking their nose (so many nose pickers at red lights—people can see you!).

These days, if I hit two stop lights in a row I feel like I am going to freak the fuck out. I feel my jaw clench, even if I have nowhere to be. I remind myself there’s no need to fret, I’m not going to miss anything, but it doesn’t help.

I love my children, but this is their fault. They push my boundaries to the edge, then kick them off a damn cliff so I have nothing left when I’m waiting in line or trying to find a photo in my phone I took five years ago.

My shoulders tense as soon as they start arguing and whipping each other with their dirty underwear. Their damp towels on the floor make me want to scream, and I’ve been known to gather up all their cups strewn about the house and put them in the dishwasher even if they’ve just poured a drink.

It’s very hypocritical of me to try to get them to be patient and hold their damn horses when my patience is fried to a dirty crisp, but I try. I do.

Every morning I start my day with the best of intentions. I tell myself I am going to hold it together and realize nothing is so urgent I need to have a meltdown before 8 a.m.

Then my children leave orange juice and milk slung across the counter. They haven’t packed their lunches the night before and think they can do it after I tell them it’s time to get out the door for school. I can’t find the car keys because I accidentally threw them away with the junk mail last night because by the time I got home, I was delirious.

I love my children, but this is their fault. They push my boundaries to the edge, then kick them off a damn cliff so I have nothing left when I’m waiting in line or trying to find a photo in my phone I took five years ago.

I feel myself winding up like a top, about to spin around on a slippery floor because after all this, my allotted patience is all used up for the day.

Even the most patient people lose it on their kids (and if you don’t, you should bottle your magic and sell it). I happen to think it’s because it’s really hard to get anyone to do what you want them to do, when you want them to do it. Especially little people.

You can’t just go to the grocery store with kids. There’s no slipping in your car, and hitting the Starbucks drive-thru in peace before-hand to get you in the mood to purchase all the ingredients for your Grandmother’s lasagna.

No.

Getting the kids ready is a huge production. Once everyone is ready to go, there’s a lost iPad and slapping in the eye. Then, someone is hungry and has to shit. If you are brave enough to treat yourself to some caffeine so you can do this damn store-run, everyone else wants things and screams and cries until they get it. You are a star if you remember your damn list.

By the time you enter the market, you have nothing left except for the few sips of caffeine you managed to suck back floating in your empty belly. Patience doesn’t exist here. Your children have taken all you have, chewed it up and spit it all over your two-day old leggings. Also, fuck the lasagna.

I feel myself winding up like a top, about to spin around on a slippery floor because after all this, my allotted patience is all used up for the day.

I was patient once. I’m sure you were too. Kids rob you of stuff like that, so don’t be too hard on yourself. You’ll find it again when they are grown and gone.

And honestly, when that time comes, you’d probably gladly trade it in for the chaos again.