I’ve known I am not the most patient person on the block since a really young age. What I didn’t know was my short fuse was due to anxiety. I constantly felt like I had to be moving to the next thing. I don’t know if this was FOMO (fear of missing out), or the fact that I start to overthink things when I’m waiting for others, but it makes me feel out of control, impatient and angry.
After having kids and realizing the amount of patience it takes to soothe a crying child, the time it takes to get comfortable with breast feeding, or any of the other difficult tasks you take on after giving birth, I found myself bubbling up with anger and resentment. I had no idea who I was angry at though, since I’d had no reservations about having kids, ever.
This is part of it, just chill the hell out, I’d tell myself.
I wanted children so badly I would walk up to any woman with a stroller and ask them to tell me all about their child because I couldn’t wait to be a mother myself.
Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but I really was drawn to pregnant women, and parents in general, and was known to stalk them from time to time hoping their baby energy would flow onto me and I’d be the fertile woman I’d always wanted to be.
But one day, as I was nursing my youngest son for what seemed like an eternity because that’s the only way he would fall asleep and take a damn nap, I realized something: My anger and resentment was aimed at me, and it was keeping me from being the kind of parent I wanted to be.
I was mad at myself for having such a short fuse. I hated how trying to teach my kids to tie their shoes or eat an ice cream cone without painting themselves with it gave me so much anxiety. I wasn’t able to be present and in the moment.
I do believe, though, unless you are a saint, you have a hard time having patience with your kids (and yourself) on the regular — especially if you struggle with stress and anxiety. Our stress makes us anxious; when we are anxious, we become angry because we don’t know what to do with that feeling, and before you know it, you find yourself hovering over your child and tying their shoes yourself because you literally cannot handle it for one more second.
I also know what comes after you lose it too.
Even if you don’t go completely batshit because it’s taking your child 30 minutes to poop in a public toilet dripping with germs, you have a guilt hangover for not having the patience you wish you did.
You feel horrible for rushing them, or talking to them too harshly, or for telling them to “shush” when they want to tell you how much they love “Paw Patrol” and you just need silence.
You feel selfish for letting these emotions take over because you want everything for your child. You know you overreact at times, but in the moment, you are unable to help yourself.
I, along with so many other parents, have been there too many times to count. I’ve had days I thought I was going to explode watching my child try to zip their jacket, and I’ve had to walk away. We swear we’ll get up the next day and do better. And we try, we really do. Some days we nail it, some days we suck, and some days we do okay.
But it doesn’t make us bad parents.
If you’re a short-fused parent, you aren’t alone. So there’s that. We all explode at times when we shouldn’t because we are human and raising humans is really fucking hard. I don’t care what anyone says — it’s really fucking hard and sometimes we lose our patience.
There will come a day when our kids will understand. It might not be until they have kids of their own (if that’s what they choose), but they’ll understand one day.
For now, they just need us to do our best, love them hard, and see that we are human.
Sometimes that just comes with a side of agitation, and that’s okay.