Monday, 2 February 2015

Motherhood means having the patience of a saint

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Patience. 

It's an eight letter word that seems to be on the tips of a lot of people's tongues these days. It's a topic that keeps coming up randomly through conversations with other mom friends of mine and it's a subject that I've thought about a lot myself recently. 

And why?...well, because for the past week Terry and I have been wondering what on earth has been going on in our household. We've been wondering why we have been waking up in the morning, looking at each other and wondering why it feels like we have two newborns in our house again. Because we have been up all night long, all week long, with both of our kids. Nighttime has turned into a circus of passing each other in the hallway, late at night, stumbling out of bed for the third time, fourth time, fifth time...stumbling into dark rooms to the sounds of cries and whines, rubbing backs, wiping tears, crawling into small beds, kissing cheeks, trying desperately to do anything to regain at least a few minutes of sleep before the morning breaks. Just to do it all over again the next night. 

Then, just when you feel like you can't possibly even open your eyes or see straight the next morning, you realize that everyone in the entire house is feeling the same way. So kids get clingy. Kids get cranky. Kids get whiny. Kids get grumpy. And parents are trying to keep it together, because we're all exhausted and so patience is something that I've been thinking about a lot recently. 

So when having a shower means that toddlers are crying at the glass door, wanting you since you left their eye sight for only 5 minutes or when four year olds want only you to cut their toast in half--no one else (and subsequently forget all of their usual manners in the process),  you start to take a deep breath and realize that patience is something that is a practice. It's an art form really. It's a beautiful, hard and critical part of being a mom. Being a parent. And it's not always easy.
  
Because it turned out that those late nights of being up all night long...the whining, the crying, the cranky, clingy children during the day were actually two kids fighting a bug. And mom was the only one who they wanted. 

Every. moment. of. the. day.  

At this point, if there was such a thing as a reverse c-section, both of my kids would definitely crawl right back in there. No questions asked. They'd snuggle right back in, shuffle the new baby to the side, cuddle up and never even think of leaving. At least for now, that is.


But, you see, there is something that I kind of love about sick kids. Not that I'd ever wish it on any child. But I do love the snuggles. I love the heads that curl into my neck and how they force me to stop and lay with them for long periods of time, when I may have been pulled to finish the dishes, make dinner or throw a load of laundry in otherwise.

I love this little boy who so desperately needs his beloved blankie and who waits so patiently as it spins and spins in the warmth of the dryer, fighting away the germs of the bug that these two have been fighting.
 



And in all of this, I've learned that patience is something that I want to work on daily. It's something that I need to remind myself of. It's something that I try so desperately to have an abundance of. But it's also something that I know is possible to lose sometimes. Because when you have two sick kids who are whiny, tired and cranky all day long (and have no patience themselves since they're feeling so rotten), you have to remind yourself to be patient as well. Because mom and dad are also tired, wiped out and exhausted...because looking after two sick children isn't easy. 

So, this post is really just for me. It's a reminder for me for the next time. The next time that I feel like my patience is wearing thin..the next time that I'm exhausted, working, in the middle of report cards, sleep deprived, very pregnant, and calming cranky kids all day long. It's a reminder of what to do...because I've learned a few tricks along the way that I don't want to forget. So, self--here they are. 

Number one:

Play with them. 

Yes, play with them. 
Stop what you're doing, put the report cards away, leave the dishes, forget about the pile of sick laundry piling up and just sit and play with them. It's life's best therapy to play with kids. It steals you away from the reality of what you're going through and pulls you into their little imaginary world of make-believe. And when they're sick, they tend to forget for a moment that they feel so rotten, and the whining calms down, the cranky attitude goes away for a bit and everyone is able to take a deep breath.  


Number two:

Create activities that they can help you with.
The thing that I've learned about my kids is that even when they're sick, they're not willing to just sit and rest all day long like us adults might be able to do. They start to go stir crazy, they get bored and they need some structured activity to keep them in tact...just to get them by until the next moment when they crash again.

So we bake. She gets into her future prom dress "because it's not a school day mommy" she says, and she stands at the counter and helps me bake cookies--for the sole purpose of keeping everyone together when it feels like everyone is starting to fall apart.




Number three:
Put them in water.

It literally works every single time.
It cures the grumps, it calms them down, and it allows mama to sit and breathe. Patience restored.



Number four:
Give yourself a time-out.

"Mommy needs a time out...I'll be back in two minutes" is a phrase that my kids have heard before. It's that moment when you feel like you're about to lose the patience that you're trying so hard to keep in control--so you remove yourself. Remove yourself from the situation and lock yourself in the bathroom for a couple of minutes to breathe...to regain perspective and to recharge so that you can come out and have the patience that you always envisioned that you'd have as a mother. Time-outs are great for parents...alone time for even a few seconds is completely underrated. Completely.

Number five:

Change of scenery does wonders for everyone.
We had a crazy amazing crescent/neighborhood superbowl party yesterday, where they shut down the street, had the game projecting onto a screen up on our neighbours garage door, food and drinks galore and kids sipping on hot chocolate filled with mini marshmallows then sledding down the hill that the snowplow created on the crescent circle. Talk about scoring a great neighbourhood when we moved into this place-seriously.



But with two exhausted kids and two exhausted parents we debated about what to do...then ultimately decided that watching the party from the front window wasn't doing anyone any favours.


So we threw on our snowsuits, walked ourselves two doors over and basically said "hi" and "bye" within about 15mins flat. Because being sick means that the party right outside your door might just have to go on without you...or at least until one parent at a time can sneak out at least for a bit.  
 
But regardless...patience was restored. That quick and short change of pace was good for us all.

So, to my two little loves who are tucked all warm into their beds as I type this, I hope you feel better soon. I hope I don't walk into the living room to find you snuggled up on the floor again asleep in the middle of the day...as cute as it certainly was...because watching your kids fight a bug is hard on a mama's heart.


And I hope we can put away our jammies and feel just as good in real clothes again.


 Because a mother's soul breaks just a little when her babies are sick.


But I'll always love those extra cuddles. Love them oh so much.

And hopefully we'll all finally get some sleep tonight after all of these long days and sleepless nights, and patience from all of us will be completely restored.

And on those days in the future when it's not--I'll scroll back to this post and remind myself...patience is a practice, a beautiful, hard, important process of being your mama. The best job in the world.

Love, Mom xo

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