always be honest, except for when you lie

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Dictionary dot com defines patience as the capacity, quality or fact of being patient. It lists the following as synonyms for the word: long suffering, resignation, forbearance. It goes on to say that these nouns denote the capacity to endure hardship, difficulty or inconvenience without complaint,

They had me at long suffering and resignation but lost me at without complaint. I was so close.

Let us consider, in some detail, the concept of patience as it relates to the mother of two small children aged three and one. In this case the mother in question would be me. The children in question, mine.

It isn't that I have no patience. I have some. I believe I even have a plentiful supply of it. Said supply, however, is not neverending and is taxed in varying degrees by a number of factors. See Figure One below.

Figure One - Things that tax Mother's patience in varying degrees (in no particular order):
Lack of sleep
Poor quality of sleep
Relentlesssness of children
Constant barrage of same question three thousand times in a row by same child in span of 30 seconds
No time to oneself
Not being allowed to pee or shower without people at the door screaming bloody murder
Request for food and drink when children have just enjoyed a snack in sufficient quantity to hold them until meal time
Other sundry items

The following conversation took plave in my kitchen not ten minutes ago between myself and my Son after the timer on the over began to beep.

Son: (running in from living room): Muffins are ready, muffins are ready!!!

Me: They are still very hot, we have to wait to eat them.

Son: Muffins are ready!

Me: Yes but they are very hot. We just have to let them cool for a few minutes and then we can enjoy their hearty goodness.

Son: I want muffins!

Me: Honey, they are fresh from the oven and although they smell very lovely and are certainly cooked, they are too hot for the sweet mouths of my wee babes.


Me: They. Are. Hot!

Son: Pleeeeeeeeease mommy Pleeeeeeeeeeease.

Me: Fine! Here! Don't come crying to me when you finally discover that mommy is right right right!!! Do you want butter on them, sweetheart?

Had that conversation ended after the 'sweet mouths of my wee babes' my patience would have been intact. I swear it. It is the neverending, unrelenting quality of the interaction that wears me down and I know that this is the essence of being a child. This ability to outwit, outplay and outlast one's mother and come up victorious in the quest for a muffin three and a half minutes sooner than she was planning to offer them up. I remember well the inability to do as my mother asked. I also remmber believing he to be evil and insane for doing all of the things I now do. Such as refusing to give her children food that was molten hot even when her children, myself included, begged over and over and over and over until she finally said Fine, you little ungrateful buggers! Burn your faces off, what do I care.

At least I've grown beyond saying something as awful as that. I would never.

The only remedy to this problem of taxed patience is to reduce the degree to which one is exposed to those things that robbed one of one's daily quota of patience. Hence preschool and naps. And Grandparents who babysit. Sadly, these things do not in any way help in the grand scheme because here they come again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Some day they will go to school all day and I will rejoice as my husband reminds me that I once planned to home school. Which I would do were it not for being human and having been sucked dry at the Well of Patience.

I work at it every day, mind you and hope to grow and improve over time. But let's be honest, I'll never outgrow being human and my kids will suffer for it. And one day they will remember how I refused to feed them as they begged and pleaded. There's nothing I can do about it. They'll get over it.

Gotta run, they need me.