For this author, creative endeavors have been sorely tested by motherhood. But also transformed, and in ways she wouldn’t have imagined – couldn’t have, without her life “rewritten” as it has been, by her children. So linger here, to read all things weaverly, writerly and motherly.


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Friday, April 29, 2011

No Patience!

Kenny has these little stick magnets that he’d been trying to line up in a row all morning, without their ends repelling each other. He’d been up since 6:30am. Way too early, and by the time I had both boys out the door to school, I was a raging wreck. “How many times do I have to ask you to brush your teeth? It should be one. But it’s not even three. It’s six. My limit is three.”

They were silent in the back of the car. Kenny’s lower lip was quivering. “Sorry…” he warbled.

My patience threshold had been breached when I finally had Ryan in the car, the engine running, but Kenny was still inside. He was on the carpet, still trying to line up the magnetic sticks. When he finally ambled out of the house, I began my lecture which I continued all the way to school, about morning routines. 

“My limit for asking, begging you guys, to get dressed, brush your teeth and sit down at the table is just that. Three times. Not six. Not eight. Not ten.”

This is how the morning had gone. When they hadn’t been squabbling that is.  Kenny wouldn’t let Ryan play with the magnets. Ryan had started to cry. I told Ryan to go play with his Legos, and if Kenny wanted to play, he didn’t have to share either. I’m not sure this is the best strategy, but it was a way of separating them so at least I could go back upstairs and finish getting dressed — to intervene, I’d had to come down with my makeup half on. Then I realized I hadn’t even made their lunch yet. 

I didn’t know I had no patience until I had children.  And I find myself demonstrating this impatient mothering even toward my own mother. She’s quite elderly now, and over the past couple of years has slowed down tremendously. Now here is a woman who used to be just like I am now. I remember on vacation, walking in some country village somewhere, ambling along with my dad, and my mother was yards ahead, already in the next store, so we’d lose track of her. She was always getting things done, quickly emptying flats of impatients (no pun intended), just to get them into the earth, so she could move on to spring cleaning and packing away winter sweaters.

Now I go nuts waiting at a cash register with her. There’s a line behind us at CVS. I’ve always been conscious of that, people waiting behind me, thinking that they’re all as impatient as I am. But there is my mother, trying to figure out which way to slide her credit card through the machine. If I help her, she’ll wave me off. The cashier finally, gently, will take the card and slide it for her, so that  I feel guilty for not demonstrating that same gentleness. When I know we’re already late for one of her doctor appointments, and she’s fumbling with her zipper, I finally just zip up her coat for her, as I would my children’s coats. I often help her put on her shoes as I do their own shoes, (when really they should be able to do their own, if we weren’t already late for school). I seem to have mutated into some kind of motherly creature toward everyone, though not in a nurturing sense, as much as in the one of mothers I see at Target, whisking their carts down the aisles, chanting the usual chant to their kids trailing behind, “No, you can’t have that, we’re not here to buy you presents…” keeping one eye on their shopping lists.  I even have to adjust my husband’s shirt collar, pulling it out from beneath his sweater, before he goes to work, and sometimes wipe toothpaste from his mouth.

As we pull into the school drop-off zone, the boys are utterly quiet. Usually I would find such car-quiet a reprieve, but not on this morning when I’d lost all patience. 

What I couldn’t do is let Kenny go off to school weepy.  I helped him out of the car and put his backpack on him. I cupped his face.  I kissed his nose, plastering one of my noisy “frog” kisses.  “We just need to work on that, my asking once or twice, ok?”

He nodded. His head still down.

I felt desperate now for him to have a great day; he was going on a field trip to a farm, and I wanted our bad morning to be over, to evaporate into the warm spring air, to be raised up on a light breeze like the petals from the nearby cherry blossom  tree. I wanted him to only be left with this moment, of love and, not apologies exactly, but some kind of motherly remorse. Because I already knew, driving home, that I would berate myself for my impatience.

I didn’t know that I would find his stick magnets, finally, all lined up in the perfect row he’d been trying to achieve all morning. That I would realize then, the reason I couldn’t get him out of the house on time was because he was too intent on this challenge. At only six years old, he’d been consumed by the moment at hand. And, at six, he doesn’t have a real sense of time yet; when he talks about something that happened yesterday, he’ll say “a thousand hours ago….”

I will leave the sticks just as they are, where he left them, lined up neatly on the living room rug. When he comes home from school, I will tell him how proud I am that he’d finally figured that out, how magnets do attract and repel each other, but that such perfect alignment can still be achieved. 


Barbara L said...

Aww! Glad you are leaving the magnets out for him.

Found you through Mom Loop.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

What a great way to end the post! I loved reading it.

Stopping from Mom Loop!

Nicole said...

As long as I have enough patience not to beat my children, I feel I have enough patience to deal with them.

Grumpy Grateful Mom said...

So I'm not happy with you. I'm all teary eyed now. I can so relate! I swear I USE to be patience. My 7-year-old daughter sometimes brings out the worst in me. Good thing we love our children so much. I'm thinking they will forgive us and keep loving us too. :)

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