On Patience

I am the most impatient, patient person I know; really, it even baffles me sometimes how little patience I have for most things, yet two of my major roles as a social worker and a mother require the utmost patience, which I gladly thrive to provide. Complain to me about how hard/unfair/boring your life is as soon as I get off a day at the shelter I work at, however, and my face will surely tell you that my patience reserves have been depleted.
When I was a kid, if an idea popped into my head about something I wanted to play or read or draw I had to do it right then and there and if I was not able to I would not be able to stop obsessing about it until I had it done. Gee, I wonder if there were ever signs of my to-be-diagnosed anxiety disorder and type A personality back then?!

Not much has changed; whenever I get a good idea I obsess and have little wiggle room for the deadline in my head which it absolutely must be done, usually about 5 minutes ago. I do this at work: when I get a project I jump into it right away instead of waiting to, I don't know, eat lunch? I also do this at home, a lot. When I decided that I wanted to switch the nursery and our bedroom and turn it into a big ol' playroom while sick at home with a sick husband and sick baby I could barely let the DayQuil take affect before I was moving things in and out of rooms.

My husband is a saint for putting up with me some (most) days.

Then there is the other side of things; I have spent the past five years listening to people talk about their problems, many of which exist purely because of their own poor decision making. I have provided therapy to men who have raped and molested women and children; helped build resumes for people who have not worked in 20 years because they were in prison for shooting someone over gang turf and now I help women who are homeless and have children figure out how they are going to be good mothers, providers and members of the community, even when some don't give a rat's ass about anything but getting their nails done and hanging out with their abusive boyfriends.

 I listen, I empathize, I give advice and help out with what I can, and I do it because I love it. I do this because it is my calling; I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to have a career where I truly get to help people that need it and provide help that will make my community better. I get to feel accomplished and as though what I do is necessary to the world most every single day that I go to work, which is more than I can say about the careers that a lot of my friends begrudgingly drag themselves into every day.
But the benefits do come with some consequences: lower pay than if I had decided on the MBA vs. the MPA, emotional reaction to some of the awful stories that I hear, becoming invested in someone only to see them fail and a large group of people who do not see the value in what me and people like me do (I am looking at you, conservatives!). And sometimes, at the end of the day, or sometimes in between, my patience for others is gone.

Sometimes I do the ultimate mommy no-no and bash other people for what I perceive to be ridiculous, annoying or downright obnoxious. I rarely do this outside of my head or my conversations with my most trusted people, but good God damn can I get on a tirade when I decide that I have no patience for someone complaining about something I deem to be absurd. Sometimes it makes me feel guilty. For a second. Then I feel guilt about how I don't feel guilty at all. Then I justify it, pat myself on the back for my clever observations, and move on.

However, I do feel immense guilt when my patience waivers with my child; even when I am smiling and trying to make a screaming, flailing toddler happy by singing a nursery rhyme while secretly screaming and flailing internally, I feel as though I should be better. I know most mothers feel that; the immense desire to be a better mother, and that is what makes us good moms, but I truly have no idea how to be more patient. I take deep breaths, I tell myself how lucky I am to have such a rad kiddo, I let my dear husband take over, I yoga and run and read and talk and do all those things. But damn if I am not getting impatient about my lack of patience! I work on it and I never, ever, ever let my lack of patience affect my ability to be a good mama, but I want to calm my own crying, flailing insides! I want to be a zen master! I want to be a rolllll of my back sort of person all the time, not just when I am getting paid for it! I want to be perfect! Oh man, I just totally lost patience for myself. How obnoxious. Did I mention that I have very low patience for myself?

To a more patient day!


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