One of my ongoing goals is improving my patience.
We all have little things that set us off, and they do not always make sense to others but feel completely rational to us.
My “little thing” lately is putting socks and shoes on my 5 year old. I can’t seem to handle it.
It begins with a joyful mood–We are going somewhere! Yay! Let’s get ready!
So we all begin the process of getting ready. We are almost done, all we need are shoes.
Then I hear it. A low level roar/grumble that transitions to a high-pitched “Ahhhhhh!”
I feel my shoulders tighten. I try to breathe, but I think I know where we are heading.
My daughter hates all socks. They never feel good to her. She puts them on and then begins the roar/yell/kick sequence.
Then our conversation goes like this:
Me (very calm): Would you like help?
Me (still calm): Why don’t you wear sandals? Then you don’t have to wear socks at all! (I fake enthusiasm at this fact).
Her: NO! I WANT TO WEAR SHOES!!!
Me (less calm): I am going to walk away so I don’t get mad. I do not care what you put on your feet, just please get ready. (I leave and go to my room to breathe, proud of myself for staying calm).
Her (from the living room): MOOOMMMYYYY!! HEEELLPP MEEEE!
Me (storming out of bedroom, not calm): I tried to help you and you didn’t want my help, remember??
Kevin and son: We are going to warm up the car. We’ll come pick you up.
It does not matter if I run or do yoga that morning. This sequence of events gets me every time.
My overall patience as a human is getting better. I have worked on it a lot the last 5 years.
But it is still one of my biggest areas for improvement.
While searching for an answer to our sock/shoe fiasco, it hit me.
I now realize the problem is not the socks or my daughter or even the moment I lose my cool.
The problem is the moment when my shoulders tighten. In that moment, I have already decided this situation will be exactly like the others. I am predicting both our behaviors and setting us up for failure.
I can say I am staying calm, but I have already played out the escalation in my head.
So what if I took my husband’s approach: Just sit next to her. Say nothing. Let her sort it out in her head. She doesn’t need my questions and input.
I do not like it when people assume who I am or how I will react. So why do it to her?
I need to give my daughter a chance to have her feelings and reactions without bringing in my assumptions.
So my goal going forward is to avoid this sequence of events. Sit next to my daughter and wait for my cue.
It will not be easy, but it is important. And to me, the real patience comes when I stop assuming outcomes.