One of the hardest things about having kids is getting smacked in the face daily by your own flaws and shortcomings. I am full of flaws (my family would be happy to provide a list for your perusal, I’m sure), but the one that I hate the most as a mom is my impatience.
I’ve never been a patient person. I drive fast, I talk fast, I eat fast. I’m a terrible listener and, despite years of trying to self-correct the habit, I will frequently interrupt people I consider to be “slow talkers” to try and help them get to their point faster. Ew, right?
Because God thinks he’s hilarious, I fell in love with and married a man who moves at a slow and methodical pace. FOR EVERYTHING. Jon eats slowly, walks slowly, talks slowly. Incidentally, he is also a fantastic listener. Honestly, between my messiness and my impatience, you should wonder what he sees in me.
It’s too soon to tell with the little one, but my son has inherited Jon’s “thoroughness,” as Jon calls it. (I call it slowness.) Nathan cannot be rushed for anything. So you can imagine what my days with the kids look like. The words “come on, Nathan” and “hurry up, Nathan” must be said at least 50 times. After telling him for five minutes to put on his shoes, only to watch him slowly attempt it for the next two minutes, I find myself grabbing his shoes and putting them on his feet myself, grumbling about him taking so long. He spends another three minutes selecting a toy to take in the car. By now, there’s steam coming out my ears. “Just get in the car, Nathan!” I snap. And then those big, beautiful brown eyes, with the impossibly long eyelashes (also inherited from his dad), meet mine. And they look so sad. And he ducks his head and says “sorry, Mom.”
And then it comes. Guilt, strong and powerful, washing over me. There’s no reason for my rushing him. We’re just going to the library, and there’s no specific time we need to be there. The only reason for my shortness is my impatience. We all learn to swallow the doses of mom guilt early and often, but none taste quite as bitter as when my shortcomings hurt my son for no good reason. He may take forever to accomplish the smallest tasks, but he is also gentle, empathetic, kind and generous. He’s who I want to be, when I’m finally done growing up.
Maybe it’s because I get so much practice, but I do have at least one redeeming quality – I’m quick with an apology. Swiftly, I kneel down in front of him, lift his chin and look deeply into his solemn little face.
“I’m sorry, buddy. I shouldn’t have been impatient. Go ahead and pick your toy.” And because a three year old’s capacity for forgiveness is unrivaled, I get a beaming smile and all is forgotten … On his part, anyway.
As for me, I’m reminded again to stop rushing, slow down and be patient with my sweet little snail. These years are flying by fast enough.