Do we have a finite amount of patience within us? When that patience is all used up on dealing with our day-to-day stressors do we snap at the merest provocation after that point? Is patience an acquired trait or is it a part of some people's make-up? Do we develop our patience as we go along? Or is it 'all of the above'.
I may have forgotten a time in my life when I became enraged over the smallest of things ... if it hadn't been for a time when I saw myself in a friend. She was stressed to the max. And then some. Then her children came into the room and simply started 'pressing her buttons'. She completely flew off the handle. I had been there. I had done that. She was running on empty and life kept coming at her. Her patience was less than nil.
At the time that I witnessed this interaction and slight break-down within my friend, I was so freshly out of those circumstances that I immediately recognized myself within my friend's reaction.
A person simply doesn't roll with the punches when they are dealing with more than they can already handle. It made me appreciate the serenity that I had fought for and found within my life. I was by no means perfect but I was so much better than I had been.
Raising children. Maintaining relationships. Worrying about finances. Taking care of a home, yard and vehicle. Working. Dealing with family dynamics. Health issues. Our lives are full of so many changing and evolving variables. When too many things start to feel like they are running out of control stress seeps into our lives. We tend to overreact to small stuff when the big stuff becomes too heavy.
I was not a patient young person. I have a litany of offences where I flipped out and got angry about something that was so inconsequential. Was there a back-story to these over reactions? Probably. But tell that to my young children. They will never know all that I was feeling when I wasn't one of those moms that are portrayed on TV and movies.
I have had far too many 'Mommy Dearest' moments ... and when I talk honestly to other parents that I know well, I get the feeling that I am alone. Hopefully I didn't tip the balance too badly when I was actively parenting my children so that these are the moments that they remember and focus on.
Why do I write this, this morning? Because I have changed.
I listen to the 'me' that I am when I tend my young Daycare Family. I cannot believe that I am the same person that I used to be. I have so much more patience than I have ever had before. I cannot stress enough that I am far from perfect. But I am so much better. Better is a step in the direction that I want to go so I will take it.
What is the difference?
I am older, wiser and realize that these moments pass. So I don't place quite as much emphasis on the little things. I am a great believer in not letting little things become bigger so I am still rather militant on my expectations within my young household. I don't let these little people run wild. But I'm not yelling at them all of the time either...
My after-hours life is calm. I don't have a lot of expectations within my world. My children are pretty much all of a self-maintaining age and stage in their lives. My parenting skills are not in great demand within my own little family, so I have more to give my young charges.
My life is very much in balance. I have a good, healthy mixture of work, family and friends. My home, yard and vehicle(s) are not overwhelming me. My finances are (finally!) in a spot where I can see the light. Good health surrounds my immediate family. I have no overwhelming concerns that are consuming a great deal of my energy.
The biggest stressor for me at this moment in time, is a lack of down-time or quiet in my day-to-day world. It adds up and I recognize when I'm becoming too overloaded. And (so far) I have been able to act on this and fix it before it becomes too big.
I just stole a weekend of quiet time. I found my quiet spot and revelled in it. I had many other things that probably should have taken priority but I'm glad that I was greedy and took time for myself. I needed it.
I could tell that it was the right thing to do when I caught myself looking at my little world from the 'outside, looking in' yesterday. There was a time when I couldn't have done what I am doing right now. I didn't have the patience for it. I'm so glad that I took a sabbatical from Daycare Part I when I did. I was overwhelmed and my patience levels were nil. But I am back. I'm better than I was before. I have not only found myself more patient ... but I seem to have fallen into a system of maintaining patience.
I have (finally) started to recognize what I need and when I need it, to keep myself, my emotions and my reactions in check. And I have (finally) started to take what I need to maintain my patience. For me? It is taking time for quiet reflection and solitude.
I cannot help but think of those whose answers are not so black and white. For young people who do not know what it is that they need to regain their sense of status quo. For addicts who reach for their drug of choice. For those who are mentally ill and require a delicate balance of medication to help their brain process life in a manner in which a lot of us simply come to expect ...
Maintaining patience sounds so easy. We are lucky when we have stumbled upon our magical equation that works for us. The equation changes daily. It isn't easy. It isn't one answer fits all.
I have no answers ... but I am beginning to recognize just how hard the simple things in life are for some people. I hope that they never stop seeking their own answers. I pray that they find their answers without turning to a cycle that could be destructive.
Maintaining balance is key. The rest falls into place easier when our foundation is firm. So much in life starts from that foundation...