"It's hard to wait, baby. I know," I tell my sweet eldest girl, at least once a day.
Trust me, I know.
As a mother, I know it's part of my job to teach my kids how to do things for themselves. To let them try, even if they can't get it right. To build in them a sense of competence, of power and control, of independence. I believe that it's important, maybe one of the most important things we do. I value it.
But good Lord, I don't have the patience.
"It's time to get dressed," I said cheerfully. "Choose your pants and shirt." I opened the drawer in BG's dresser and then walked away. Scooped up little sister and left the room.
Because if I'd stood there and watched her do it? I would have screamed.
Ten minutes later, my youngest and I both dressed, I came back. There stood my spirited first born, in her underwear, drawer still open, dancing in a circle.
"Hi mommy! I'm doing my pattern dance."
"Did you choose pants and a shirt?"
"Well, let me know if you need help. I can choose them if you want to."
I nodded. And I walked away.
This was a good day. She found me in the hallway a few minutes later with the shirt pulled halfway over her head, giggling and telling me she had lost her head. I pulled it down, and she disappeared back into her room to finish dressing. Which she did.
I didn't yell. I didn't nag. It was a freaking miracle.
We've started getting dressed earlier in the morning. I plan in a 20 minute margin to put on shoes. I give several reminders, a time limit and a consequence on picking up toys. I walk away a lot.
I don't want to yell anymore.
The monologue in the back of my head screams "You know how to do this! Why are you acting like this? Why are you making this harder? It would be so much easier just to take over and do this for you. But I can't! I shouldn't! I'm a terrible mother! Why am I so freaking impatient?"
It shouldn't matter if we are a few minutes late to library story time. It shouldn't be a big deal if it takes us 20 minutes to put on shoes instead of 2. I should enjoy my little girl while she's little. I should find her performances endearing and hilarious instead of maddening.
But I am who I am. I like to be on time. I like to be efficient. When we're doing things, I like to do them.
The question is, is that who I want her to be?
Or do I want her to know that no matter how much mommy really just freaking wants to get out the door and get to nature class, that I value her humor and her charm? That I am listening to every word that she says? That I am willing to stop and enjoy the moment instead of rushing off to the next thing?
And maybe that's what I want for myself too.
Where do I get more patience?