It's 22nd September 2014 - John and I are in Furore, Italy. It is our wedding day.
One of the readings we chose for our wedding was 1 Corinthians.
I don't consider myself "religious" and this verse from the Corinthians moves me. When I read the verse, my heart expands, my eyes well up.
"Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
Every relationship is a growing, living organism and we're either nourishing it with Love - or Fear.
To be "patient" is an act of Love.
It is that simple.
Patience is also a muscle that we cultivate - and in choosing to be patient with the ones we love, it isn't a luxury. It is a choice. (This also applies to being patient with ourselves.)
When we're impatient with ourself - we disconnect from feeling whole.
When we're impatient with our partner/ spouse - there is a sense of loneliness and defensiveness.
When we're impatient with our child - there's a "pang" in our heart knowing that we are not acting out of Love and our child feels a disconnection to not only us - but also themselves.
In the moments we are impatient as a parent, we're parenting from Fear.
This isn't about perfection. It is about awareness. Awareness is the willingness to pay attention to ourselves to learn and grow.
The other evening I was putting Avery to bed. I was tired, and I wasn't present. My mind was elsewhere. I wanted to have a shower and head to bed early. I was desperate for him to go to bed!
I'm lying there with him reading a bedtime story. We were on this particular page, and he wanted to read the page over and over again.
After six times reading that same page, I snapped. "Avery, let mummy read the book to you!"
He went quiet and froze - staring straight ahead and avoiding eye contact with me. He pursed his lips - I felt that he was trying to hold his emotions in. He felt unloved. I could sense there was an experience of rejection and confusion.
His reaction, combined with the sensation of contraction in my own body, were telling signs that I was impatient.
When I caught myself, I went in and gave him a big cuddle. I hugged him tightly.
"I'm so sorry. I was impatient and unloving".
He started crying. He released the emotions.
I continued to hold him.
"You were connecting with mummy, and mummy was impatient with you. That must have felt horrible."
I didn't beat myself up or go down that path of guilt. I chose to be compassionate to myself as I know these are learning moments.
I also know - parenting isn't about perfection. Neither is life. It is giving ourselves the grace of making mistakes and learning from them. When we know better, we can do better.
Being impatient with our children - is on us. Our children aren't testing us, nor are they pushing our buttons. They can't make us "feel" impatient - and if we're reacting out of impatience - that too, is on us.
Impatience is a symptom of being out of alignment within ourselves.
When our children's behaviour occurs as "pushing our buttons" or "testing our patience" - it has nothing to do with that.
That's our meaning, that's our own created narrative and interpretation of what is happening. That's us playing the role of being a victim.
Underneath the behaviour of our child is the cry for love, for connection, for validation; "Am I loved by you even when I'm at my worst?". They aren't testing our patience - they are testing our commitment to loving them. Is our love conditional or unconditional?
It is a chance to bring awareness to what is happening in our lives.
Have we overcommitted to family and friends? Are we saying "yes" when we should be saying "no"? Has the disease to please infiltrated our mind, body, and spirit? What boundaries have we compromised? Where are we judging ourselves?
When was the last time we acknowledged our "self" and looked after our sense of wellbeing?
For if we are loving with ourselves - impatience as a reaction would be the exception, not the norm.
I believe there is a misconception about patience when it comes to parenting; Patience is a luxury or a rare commodity that our children need to "earn".
And yet, Love is patient. Love is kind.
In parenting - in fact, in any relationship, patience is an active demonstration of love.
Once again - This isn't about perfection or stripping ourselves of being human. My intention is this post inspires you to be patient with yourself.
When you overcome your guilt, shame, self-judgement and choose patience, that's mastering and cultivating the muscle of Love.
With that mastery - imagine how you show up in the most important relationships in your life.
You will no longer be the parent that says; "I wish I had more patience" or be the parent that "looses" it and then feels guilt and shame - and is stuck in a never-ending cycle of feeling "less than".
For you now know, in your being, patience can be cultivated, patience can be learned, and it starts with choosing to be kind and patient with you.
...And we do this because - Love is patient. Love is kind.
I invite you to be patient with your heart and be kind to your soul.
That's a gift to your child, your loved ones - and you.