When I took on this blogging venture about my life with so many children, I knew it was going to make me think about how I am as a parent and maybe reevaluate certain aspects of myself, change some expectations and address certain issues that I might have thought were not much of a problem for me.
Looking back through some of my posts, I realise that I mention patience a lot.
We all know that as a parent we require a lot of patience from the moment our children are born, but it depletes with the lack of sleep and incessant questions, especially when it’s been answered twenty times in five minutes.
I always thought that patience was one of my greatest virtues. I’ve always been quite laid back and there wasn’t much that phased me. The bigger the problem that arose, the calmer I seemed to get, the more pressure put upon me, the more I thrived.
However, from the arrival of my children, I can’t seem to keep that cool and calm exterior that I have mastered through the years.
When they do something they shouldn’t and after they have been told ‘no’ for the millionth time, I can feel my blood boil and my voice raise.
It’s not good, it’s not who I am.
I find myself restraining myself and walking away so that I don’t turn into the horrible parent that no one wants.
There were always excuses at the start such as lack of sleep or they are young. Prevention is better than cure.
It’s only when my eldest two have told me that I shout too much and my partner asking me to calm down and not to react to everything, that I started to think.
“If I continue this way will my children end up disliking me?”
Is this how I was raised?
How was I as a child?
Was I obnoxious?
My parents would have you think I was an angel.
I do believe that’s the case with the majority of us, it’s easier for our parents to remember the good and delete the bad, like a bad song recorded off the radio (shows my age doesn’t it?).
In my job, I’m fine. I can sit in traffic for hours, get cut up by some crazy driver and it just washes over me and I carry on as though nothing has happened.
Then we get onto the children’s homework, after explaining how to do something several times, I don’t want to do it anymore.
Maybe my lack of patience may derive from growing up with my mother as an only child, or it could come from wanting my children to do much, much better than me. I have always had the brains, but always lacked direction. There was never much encouragement towards my studies from my mother, so I just got on with it, did as little as possible as long as it got me through. I was never given this get up and get it attitude, the ‘work for things’ frame of mind.
I see my siblings, who grew up with my dad, know what they want and how to get it. They are able to communicate with people much better than I can; they have a certain confidence about them; and they were steered in the right direction.
But I have to take the wise words of my stepmom, who said ‘when do you stop blaming the parent and take responsibility for your own actions and decisions as an adult?’ Do I blame my faults on anyone but myself at the age of 37?
I want my children to grow up and know that I have encouraged them to the point of frustration; however, I don’t want them to rebel because I’m pushing them in the wrong way. I don’t want to be one of those overbearing parents when it comes to school and studying. Where do I draw the line?
I decided to do a little exercise with them; something simple, just like a bonding exercise. I chose something I don’t have a clue about. Something I have to learn with them. I chose…gardening. I’m not good at it, or maybe it’s better said, I have never really given it a chance. So, I decided it would be a good idea to start learning with the children.
We went to a garden centre, got some cheap flowers, compost and some tools.
The girls were excited. They couldn’t wait to plant the pretty flowers and make the garden look nice. We had to pull up the weeds, turn the earth, moisten everything and pick up any rubbish that had been buried by years of neglect.
My idea of gardening was to pass the lawnmower every so often.
They all wanted to do different things while I was trying to allocate little jobs so they all felt involved in the process. I thought that maybe if they felt like they partook in this job, they might look after the garden more responsibly. Much like the pretext to a pet, (as they keep asking me for a dog) I refuse to adopt a little dog because I want them to be old enough to look after it by themselves. I have hands full!
We are knee deep into the weed pulling. I was in quite the gardening rhythm and all of a sudden DD2 and DD4 got bored. They want to use this tool and that tool. They felt the need to pick up the flowers every few seconds because of course they needed planting right then.
My patience got thinner and thinner.
I tried to explain at first, then I tried to ignore them and get on with the job at hand, all the while I am feeling my blood boil. All I wanted to do was shout ‘stop,’ let my petulant self come out, and tell them to “Leave me alone. I’ll do it myself.” What kind of example would I have been?
It was only by looking at my first and third who kept asking me what to do next that kept my focus away from the others.
When it came time to plant the flowers, they all thought they could be just plopped down and “Hey Presto! Job done.”
I was about to have a rant when I saw the patience that DD1 and 3 were showing towards their sisters.
If they could show such restraint at their age, why couldn’t I?
They were leading me by example, there was a lesson I needed to take it in and learn.
It’s wonderful how children can teach us restraint as well as many different lessons we have forgotten or simply taken for granted.
Just because we are the adults and have experienced childhood, it doesn’t mean that we can’t learn from them. It doesn’t mean we know it all either.
So, I held back. I let them help when they wanted. They got muddy and tired. Not surprisingly the garden still ended up looking quite nice.
All I am hoping for now is that it will grow and survive.
I guess I’ll have to use a little patience.