Being Patient with Impatience

 

Mother and Child detail from The Three Ages of Woman

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day. ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I would have told you at one time that I was an extremely patient person. Having lived through a pretty chaotic childhood, I thought myself able to manage the ebb and flow of situations that would leave others completely frustrated.

Leave it to parenting to teach me otherwise!

It wasn’t until I was into the thick of it that I discovered I was not as patient a person as I had perceived myself to be. The truth of it? Like many people, I was really good at staying busy and distracted—doing everything I could to maintain some sense of control.

For me, the tendency to relentlessly pursue activity began to show up in college. It was the first time in my life that I really pushed myself to get something accomplished—and I did so, quite successfully. It was empowering. And from that point forward, I found a great deal of satisfaction in accomplishment. The more seemingly insurmountable, the better.

Bringing a couple of children into that mix was a huge wake up call for me. Suddenly, life was not about my agendas any longer. Everything now revolved around these little human beings that my husband and I brought into the world. They didn’t just want me to be physically and emotionally present, but absolutely needed my presence for their survival. No pressure, right?

These days, I am often confronted with my desire to “get things done” running headlong against my children’s need for my attention, right now, on their schedule, in the way that is best for them. The conflict between the way I want things to be and the way they are, often shows up as a lack of patience with my children.

When impatience arises within me, I find I’m not only resisting the flow of life, I’m also not living in the present moment. Typically, I’m multiple steps ahead of the moment, trying to push things along to get somewhere other than “here.”

I am slowly beginning to recognize that my impatience is actually an invitation back to the present moment. It is a warning sign that I’m slipping away from what is right in front of me—my children. The question I’m left to continually ask myself is, how do I work with life (rather than against it) as it is showing up for me in this moment? The answer is always a little different, but it almost always includes           s-l-o-w-i-n-g  d-o-w-n.

Although being a parent perpetually creates challenges for maintaining a schedule of formal practice, it also encouraged me to embrace living more mindfully, in a very rubber-hitting-the road kind of way. Because today, my level of awareness is not just about me. It’s about raising children in a manner in which they are most likely to stay present and aware, too.

Oftentimes, I stumble trying to live up to my intentions. But the beauty of intentions is we can always recommit ourselves to them, moment-by-moment, time-and-time again.