As a mother of three patience is something that is crucial in my day-to-day life. We suspect my first daughter may have ADHD, our middle daughter has diagnosed Autism disorder, and the youngest is entering her second round of testing for Autism after scoring too high on the Autism screening. In other words, it’s a lot. As difficult as their concerns are, I honestly wouldn’t have them any other way. My oldest daughter is incredibly empathetic, smart, and full of energy. My second is sweet, smart, and an over-the-top goofball. The youngest is mischievous, maniacally smart, and never goes a day without having us laugh our hardest gut laugh.
Ninety-nine percent of the time I am patient and can remind myself that there are factors influencing whichever bad behavior is currently driving me crazy. But that doesn’t always help. This is when my husband and I “tap out.” He and I both will announce to each other, “I’m done” to let the other one know they’re tapping out. When I take my break, I go into my room and put on some headphones. Music always makes me feel better, no matter what mood I’m in.
I sit back in bed with some incense going and my headphones on, and focus on my breathing. After some time, I can feel my patience creeping back in, as if it’s scared to even show its face. I go back into the war zone, nod to my husband that I’m good to go, and attack the bad behavior from a clear and cool stance. What do I do if my husband isn’t home? I do the worst thing there is, and place them in front of the tv or a tablet. (J/K, it’s really not that bad). That gives me a maximum of thirty minutes to catch up if the house is an utter disaster and/or calm myself. I’m no good to them stressed out, so it’s imperative that I stay calm.
I learned patience when I met my husband. Patience was a virtue I had never owned. In fact, I was on the completely wrong side of the scale. In my previous relationships, I wasn’t patient with them. I couldn’t stop and take the time to consider their point of view. I was self-absorbed and only ever trusted myself in those relationships. With my husband I found the patience I thought I’d never have. I found myself taking a deep breath when aggravated with him, instead of going off at the mouth. I was quiet when I realized he was aggravated at something, and let him figure it out instead of just taking it over.
So with this new patience I look at my daughters and remember what it’s like to have no control over your emotions. To be taken over by them. When my daughters scream in anger I don’t yell back, but send them to their room alone to calm down. When they’re calm, I talk to them about what they were doing and why they can’t do that again. I am so often controlled by my own emotions, that I find it surprisingly easy to relate to my girls. That is how I tap into my patience to work with them, and that is one of the things I hope they always remember of me, that I was patient with them.
Many people don’t realize what it takes to parent a kid with different challenges. Thanks for writing this.
You’re absolutely right that you’re no good to them stressed out. Sometimes the best thing we can do as parents is give ourself a break and some distance.
One of the hardest things about being a parent is having patience. I currently have a 2 year old. We go through many temper tantrums, where I’m trying to teach her how to understand her own big emotions. People don’t always realize that it’s okay to walk away when you’re reaching your breaking point. I also give my daughter the tablet when I need a break.
I know what you mean when you need to have patience and be able to have your spouse to rely on when you need them. My husband and I are foster parents and we had an autistic boy in our home and we had to learn new ways to help with our patience and how we interact with him.
As a teacher I spent many hours a day helping students in similar situations. It’s exhausting but always so rewarding. These kiddos are the ones that leave the biggest impressions on my heart.