There are endless bits of information to take in and learn when you become a parent for the first time. For me it started out with the bread-and-butter basics ... discovering the least precarious way to hold a "bobble-head" newborn whose neck seemed to be slightly more "bobbley" than originally anticipated. This was followed by the acquisition of new skills such as figuring out the most non-disruptive way to transfer said newborn from our bed after the first few night feedings to her cradle. All the while doing my best not to strain my painful c-section scar and moving smoothly enough so as not to wake her in the process. Not an easy feat to say the least.
There have been many more things to learn about the day-to-day workings of life with a baby since the first time that I awkwardly held her. Looking back now, this isn't what surprises me. I think I was always prepared for the fact that I didn't know a whole lot about babies; I remember trying to select items for my baby shower gift registry and being completely overwhelmed. I knew I had a lot to learn, but I was ok with that, I was eager to drink it all in and at times even looked forward to the impending challenge.
What I 100% did NOT anticipate before having her was just how much I was about to learn about myself. I could not have predicted or planned for the life lessons that were about to fasten their seatbelts and head straight for me. They were and continue to be the kind of lessons that reach into the core of who you are and make you question so many of the things you thought you already knew.
Patience ... the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, or trouble without getting angry or upset ... according to Oxford Dictionaries. Or, quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: ... according to Dictionary.com ... never before have I had to work more on this quality and never before has it felt more important to succeed at it.
In my life before having Sav I think I was a moderately patient person. I could take on most adversity and keep my chin up. Although, I am not going to lie, an unexpected traffic jam on the way to work or a slow internet connection would sometimes cause me to roll my eyes, sigh, and think "why me?". It seems that my generation and the generations that come after me are terrible when it comes to being patient - we are used to instant gratification in so many aspects of our lives - ATM machines that spit out money at the push of a button, mail that is sent over the internet in a quick click of a mouse, music that downloads in seconds. I can see why an influx of restlessness and agitation over "first world problems" has started to creep in.
Having Sav - becoming a Mom - this whole idea of instant gratification? It no longer exists. All of the things I used to do quickly and without thinking are now multi-step tasks that require some planning. A quick trip to the grocery store is no longer ... even just the routine of getting out the door has changed immensely. Back then I would've grabbed my jacket, wallet, keys, and headed out, not caring that I hadn't eaten lunch yet even though it was past one o'clock. Now the thought process goes something like this: make sure diaper is clean, grab my coat, her coat, diaper bag, wallet, keys, juggle baby while tying shoes, load baby into carseat - crap! Did I give her lunch today? If she doesn't eat a trip to the grocery store is going to be highly unsuccessful. Reverse all previous steps. Eat. Repeat. Breathe.
And beyond the patience I have had to work on improving for these little "opposite of instant" gratifications that occur on a daily basis, lies the patience that I have had to not just work on, but try to master. The patience that one needs in order to consistently treat another person the way that they deserve to be treated. Like on the days when she is not herself, when she cries easily or acts more sensitive than usual. When she needs more hugs and clings to my legs, reaching up to be held more often. When she is learning to be ok with being told 'no' and she loses it a little. When she doesn't want to do what she is told because she has only just begun to understand what it means to have a decision either way. In these moments I have to take pause. It is not always easy to take the high road. I've got a lot of years behind me spent being selfish and I didn't always have to stop what I was doing to consider, nurture and teach someone how to react, how to behave, how to feel. There are times when I feel worn down, I raise my voice, I lose my cool.
I try to catch myself when I can. Look at the world through her little eyes. Understand what it must be like to be learning so many things all at one time. Imagine the growing pains that must come along with her rapid speed of growth.
I read an article recently posted on Facebook by a fellow fabulous Mama that talks about how we speak to our little ones. It was a bit of a life-changing read - a simple sentence ... "how would you feel if your spouse talked to you the way you talk to your child.” Hmm.. thought provoking. It is an article that is worth taking a look at. The day this post showed up on my Facebook news feed was perfectly timed. I had already been asking myself similar questions ... wanting to more often and more easily be able to approach as many moments as possible with what it means to be patient - going back to the definition stated earlier - to have quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; and constant diligence.
Through this sort of "soul searching" I have come up with my own definition. The way I see it, patience can be broken down into two important avenues:
1. How I react in a less than ideal moment... taking a minute, checking myself, remembering my blessings, being grateful, and putting myself in another's shoes.
2. How I live inside each moment, good and bad ... without hastiness or abruptness, with a calm and thankful mind, living in the moment as they say.
I channel some of the memories I have from my own childhood. How having my Mom or Dad tuck me in at night was EVERYTHING. I try not to rush Sav's bedtime routine at the end of the day when I am so ready for a little break. I remember how it would feel when my Mom would sing to me before bed and how it would feel to see her face looking down at me as she tucked me in. The comfort. The peace. I am more aware now than I ever have been that the patience I have in these moments will mean the difference between having her grow so fast I can barely focus on the blur and instead slowing it all down, even just a notch, to try and capture each and every tiny and glorious detail.