Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Got Patience?

Not me... I have been struggling with this virtue for a long time. Of course, I did not know I had such a horrible deficit til I had children. They require A LOT of it. Last year I went to my pastor for some advise I was so desperate. Patience is a spiritual virtue... it is listed in one of Paul's letters. He states that we all have spiritual gifts but not all have the same one. I asked him what it meant that I did not know how to practice patience with my children. It was a gift from God and I certainly did not receive it. He answered that we do not all get the same gifts which intellectually helped me understand but still left me floundering on where to get some.

I was talking to my mother in law about this one day in the sand box as we played with the kids. She told me of a friend who would take a year to focus on one aspect of her life that needed improvement. I thought it was such a wonderful idea but never implemented it. So here I am... Patience will be my focus til September 2008. What it is, how to increase mine and concrete ways to practice it.

Ok, so here is the easy part. What it is...

Patience is the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties.

Now I have no problem with waiting and delay... its the provocation without becoming annoyed or upset that is the real crux of the matter. And it is mostly in the face of 3 demanding children that it is tested. And I must admit I fail miserable a lot of the time. So here is my confession... I am a yeller. In the face of stress, persistent noise and disobedient children I yell. I scream. I get mad. I am not proud of it. I am pretty humiliated and ashamed that I can not hold it together. But if I am to grow and change I must admit this to myself and others.

I have dealt with anxiety all my life. Before I married I coped by being overly organized. Everything was in its place and I breathed easy. Marriage was the first challenge. Edward would not conform... haha. He had his ways and I had mine. I would cry in the face of socks on the floor or piled up laundry. Little did I know that it would only get worse with children. But then I had a reason for medication. Anxiety and PPD are not pretty. A few weeks after my second child, a long awaited daughter, was born I felt like I was just not cut out for motherhood. Luckily my OB/GYN recognized my struggles and recommended medication to address it. It did wonders. I felt so much better. It was a low dose but it took the edge off my depression and allowed me to face the everyday stress.

And then along came Hurricane Katrina and Connor followed shortly after. Can you say "stress and anxiety"? I love my in-laws but its trying to live with anyone. We were blessed to have them to turn to when our home was severely damaged by Katrina. And I thank them for their generosity. There were so many who did not have family to turn too. But it was stressful. Connor came early due to Katrina stress and we moved back into half a house. You bet I asked for my anti-depressant to be raised. (haha) I can not imagine who I would be without my Effexor. And yet still I struggle. This feeling well up inside me and overpowers me. And I lose it. It results in missed opportunity for teaching my children. And I know it does not help their security in the world when their mommy blows up. And it scares me... hoe this will mold my relationship with each of them and how we will relate when they are adults. But mostly it scares me that they too will not have the coping skills they need as adult because I am not modeling it for them. So its time to get a handle.

While I am acquiring more patience, I can be putting some practical advise to use that I found on the internet. There are 2 times of the day when I get especially stressed. Getting the kids ready and out the door in the morning and getting dinner ready with kids around who have had a long day of one activity after another. They are tired and hungry and I am tired and want to wind down but I must make dinner. Its at these times when I am desperately trying to make something happen and am faced with three road blocks all at one time, i.e the children.

Since my impatience rears its ugly head with the children mostly, I am going to focus on my parenting skills int he following areas.

1. Organization
2. Boundaries
3. "No"
4. Time Out

1. Organization
One of the "side effects" of my anti-anxiety/antidepressant is that I do not feel the need to micro manage everything anymore in order to feel secure and anxiety free. Now this might sound like a good thing but it has its down sides. Since I no longer feel compelled to organize and clean and make lists... my life is a mess. ^-~
And I do need to get organized in order to lessen the stress and anger in the morning and late afternoon. If all the shoes were in one place... if Cullen's folder were already in his backpack... if clothes were laid out the night before... if breakfast items were placed on the counter the night before... maybe, just maybe my morning would go smoother.

I will attempt to deal with the other 3 practices in subsequent posts.


Elysa said...

One of my best friends does this every January. She really prays and seeks God about what area He wants her to work on for the upcoming year. One year He made it abundantly clear that she had to do a repeater! She was not a happy camper, but just the fact that she was mad about it, was proof positive that she needed more work! Yep, it took TWO years to work thru one of the virtues. Forgot which one, but it was a hard lesson learned. But at the end of those two years, she had passed with flying colors!

This year her virtue to pursue is JOY! And she's making great strides in learning how to not take life so seriously and LAUGH! She even got a pink cellphone, a big "out of the ordinary" for her. :D

Stephanie said...

That must have been who she was referring too ELysa.. cause I remember the "do over. " haha

Elysa said...

Really? She and Janine must have had a conversation about it when they were up for Merry's dedication or some such event.