Patience is a virtue for a reason. If it were easy, like losing your temper and shouting at people in other cars on the highway who can't hear you, we'd all be patient all the time and it wouldn't be a virtue anymore.
Parenting is the ultimate exercise in patience; not only patience with your children and their endless normal changes and confusion or their issue laden changes and confusion or, for many folks, their deeply painful challenges and confusion; but also patience with our partners, our families and, most difficult of all, patience with ourselves.
When we lose patience with our children, nine times out of 10 they will forgive us; after all, they know where their bread is buttered and certainly don't want to risk losing the ever-important comfort of the bond between parent and child. Our partners and families may be slower to forgive us if we lose our patience with them but most often, they too will come around.
Parenting when your patience is going, going and then gone with yourself however, is most insidious. You can't stand the mixed messages you give. You want to put your foot down but you're afraid of making an unloving move. Or the opposite--you want to be loving but you find you simply can't hug your child one single time this evening; somehow you're just all hugged out. And it bothers you. You dream of leaving them and going off to Honduras or Venezuela; you imagine them grown every time you look at them--successful business people with wads of cash who never need you for anything.
You think of the grown children who never remember to call their mothers and you pine wistfully for that and wonder why on earth any mother would complain about it; to you it sounds like bliss.
And then you snap out of it and feel emotionally shattered, rushing to protect your children from the three raindrops that just began to fall, cursing the teacher who looked at them askance, dialing the numbers of the children in their class for them, knowing if only everyone of them knew how awesome your kid was they'd be best friends this second. You can't win and nothing is consistent and you unabashedly despise yourself for these inconsistencies; for the broken mirror that is the reflection of your motherhood, and for your obnoxious, glaring imperfection.
Losing patience with yourself means you are burning out on parenthood and that type of burn out warrants a break. Luckily, most people have some sort of activity planned for themselves, their children, or their families during the summer months.
This summer, make a point of rejuvenating yourself even if it's only a regular weekly hike alone.
Getting childcare for a weekend is awesome but even a day or afternoon will help you clear the cobwebs of self doubt and self loathing, bringing things into perspective, rebuilding your patience with yourself.
Remember, too, that your parents weren't perfect either and you turned out all right, didn't you? That is, before you had kids? (just kidding!)
Aimee Boyle lives and writes in CT. She is a regular contributor to EmpowHER
Edited by Alison Stanton