Many years ago, I was an elementary school teacher and patience was an important part of the job. I had an abundance of it back then (most of the time). Sometimes I wonder what happened to it. As life has become more stressful and full of increasing responsibilities, I find that I’m not quite as patient as I used to be.
As I’ve discussed here before, my mom and I have struggled with our relationship over the years. High school was probably some of our worst times as was the year I lived at home after college. Once I was an adult and moved out on my own I didn’t really see her all that often and when I did it was usually with other family members so the focus wasn’t on us.
This has all changed now that my dad is gone, and my mom is older and living alone. We talk daily and see each other much more often…sometimes very often. And it’s primarily just the two of us. I find myself being less and less patient with her. Some of what can annoy me are things that have really always annoyed me, but some may actually have to do with her getting older and not being quite as swift as she’s been in the past.
Usually I find that if I prepare myself ahead of time I can be more patient. If I know I’m going to be with my mom for an extended period of time, I remind myself that I need to be patient with her and that helps. If, on the other hand, I forget to talk to myself ahead of time in preparation for the visit, it’s hard to know if it will be a patient day or not. And then it’s easy to criticize myself later about not being as patient as I think I should have been.
The other day my whole strategy backfired, though. I was going to be spending much of the day with my mom and I prepared myself ahead of time and reminded myself to be patient. But, I wasn’t. And I don’t think it was anything my mom did on purpose. I can’t say that she knowingly did things to annoy me. But I just had a hard time being calm, letting things roll off my back, and holding my tongue. My patience just wasn’t there.
Of course, I then berated myself later for not being patient and felt badly. That’s the biggest problem that I see. Everyone is human, everyone loses patience at times, everyone lets things get to them (to varying degrees), but why should I be so hard on myself when this happens? That’s the real dilemma. That’s what I really need to work on. Patience with others is good, but patience with oneself is even better. A good thing to remember…