* Column of the Week:
I have no patience.
In actuality, I am not the least impatient person in the world, but lately I find myself losing patience over my childrenâ€™s significant lack of patience. It seems like no matter the importance of their request (be it milk, a rocket ship to the moon, a pet dinosaur or otherwise), they expect immediate gratification, instant delivery and direct reward no matter what. But if there is one thing Iâ€™ve learned over the years, itâ€™s that patience and parenting generally donâ€™t mix.
Anyone whoâ€™s ever been nine months pregnant and felt like they were one kick away from the stomach exploding scene in Alien knows that from conception to completion, being a mother takes fortitude. In fact, one of the hardest parts of parenthood is dealing with other civilians who deem themselves worthy of commenting (who am I kidding, criticizing) all of our choices. Unfortunately, even when I have 40 copies of Parent magazine, the Surgeon General, Supernanny, and more pediatricians than the octo-babies to back me up, others still feel that they know better.
The fact of the matter is that most of our job as parents is simply learning to follow our gut (and having infants who liquefied our abdominal muscles, certainly helps). We often approach motherhood like two political parties- breastfeeding vs. formula, organic vs. affordable, home birth vs. â€œepidural pleaseâ€- minus the routine anomaly of course (the hemp wearing, co-sleeping, fast-food eating mom and Donald Trump are really throwing me for a loop). But just like our government, there is no black and white in the world of mothering (and I have the racially ambiguous Michael Jackson lyrics to make my point).
Unfortunately, my husband and I often see our parenting values from completely differing perspectives (come to think of it, our politics are that way too). One of our biggest issues is the matter of parenting with fear (even though any mentioning of his involvement in Tea Parties not involving our girls and 5 plush bears makes me cower in horror as well). Now donâ€™t get me wrong, I remember shaking in my boots as a child purely because I was caught in the steely gaze of my motherâ€™s expert â€œlookâ€. The Look is the artfully perfected, perfectly constructed facial expression that freezes mud-stained toddlers in their carpet-aiming tracks, or makes two siblings stop â€œwrestlingâ€ and admit they were secretly trying to murder one another.
But even though we all have a â€œLookâ€ (or â€œteacher voiceâ€ or â€œsilent finger pointâ€) in our arsenal- as well as a sibling who at some point resembled Cain- there is a fine line between parenting with purpose and parenting with petrification. To me, the greatest fear in life is to have a teenage daughter who drank too much, is too scared to call and gets behind the wheel of a car. Or to have a kid make any other normal, human mistake, and be so afraid to communicate that it becomes too late in hindsight. Yes, we could say that our offspring will never drink, theyâ€™ll never skip school or theyâ€™ll never be raging with more hormones than Dazed & Confused and Empire Records put togetherâ€¦ but just as the trajectory rate of Disney tweens into rehab is pretty predictable, to deny that our children wonâ€™t be perfect is far too ostrich for comfort. Whether we like it or not, kids really are a lot like political parties on any given day: they can be pretty fickle, they make tons of mistakes, and theyâ€™re often too terrified to admit when theyâ€™re wrong.
My mother (originator of the stern parental glare no doubt inherited by familial generations to come) used to say, â€œitâ€™s not the mess thatâ€™s the problem, itâ€™s how you clean it upâ€. It shouldnâ€™t be a surprise to us that our kids are going to make messes, theyâ€™re going to push buttons and theyâ€™re going to press boundaries. We canâ€™t control the fact that theyâ€™re as new to the world as Gwyneth Paltrow is to singing (awkward body language, mis-use of space, but general talent none the less). However, we can control our reactions to their imperfections, and how we clean up the mishaps along the way. If every spilled glass of grape juice became a lesson in taking responsibility, think of what theyâ€™d learn. If every accident or disgusting production of bodily fluids into existence became a reason for laughter, think about how theyâ€™d tackle far more embarrassing aspects of life.
The only way for kids to learn patience is for us to model it. And even though I am far from perfect in this respect (if you interrupt me during writing itâ€™s like watching the Exorcism, complete with head spinning and green complexional overtones), I hope to improve every chance I can.
Being a parent is not easy (shocker, right?) There is no quick choice, there is no fast decision, and there is no perfect amount of discipline. And even when we feel like weâ€™re almost at our best, there is always another person from another perspective waiting to push us down. But if we can stop seeing the black and the white (both in our children, ourselves and the world around us), maybe weâ€™ll see the beautiful grey in between. If we can stop harping on the mistake, the wrongdoing or the accident before our eyes, hopefully we can see the brave effort and the attempt that created it in the first place.
When push comes to shove (both figuratively and literally amongst siblings), weâ€™re going to use our â€œmean faceâ€ and our â€œstern voiceâ€ a lot. But let us never be so caught up in how we want our kids to be and in what way we want them to act, that we miss who they really areâ€¦ mistakes and all.
So even if it makes us extra impatient to try and be more patient, I promise youâ€¦. They are always worth the wait.
* Super Special Favorite Weekly Product: Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Serum
So if you’re feeling tons of pressure as a mother (much like I described above), how can you stop it from taking a toll on your skin? I’m loving the latest Origins serum for reducing stress related wrinkles, fine lines and other signs of aging (let’s just blame the kids). Your skin will feel softer, less irritated and look more luminescent in only a couple of weeks because it works like a prescription (without the harsh chemicals and toxic ingredients). So the next time you think your munchkins are giving your grey hair, try remembering your skin too!
*Â Bailey Vincent Clark is the Editor-in-chief, author and founder of Makeover Momma. She hosts Makeover Momma TV on Tuesday (7 PM/EST & 4 PM/PT), and writes this column weekly (if the kids don’t interrupt!)
Makeover Mommaâ„¢ occasionally receives cosmetic products for review, with no obligation to positively promote or cover said brand. Receiving products has absolutely no influence over our recommendation of any particular product.