It has been said, since 410 AD that "Patience is a Virtue".
I wonder if Aurelies Clemens Prudentius, the Christian governor who authored a poem which contains that famous phrase was a parent. Because if he had kids, he might have worded that phrase differently.
I looked up virtue in an online dictionary and amid the various definitions offered I most liked that virtue was defined as a beneficial quality or commendable trait.
True right? I would add, however, that while it is commendable, virtue is also fleeting.
At least for modern day mothers.
I mean I'm all thankful for the liberation of women. No longer do we have to spend our days at home in high heels, vacuuming the floors and basting roasts.
But in our quest for domestic freedom have we gone in the opposite direction?
I mean we're not just parents and home keepers anymore.
And plan. And cook.
We are bloggers, computer pros, technology nerds and queens of the laundry pile.
We may balance the household budget and bathe the kids.
We can do it all.
Heck, I do it all.
I'm pretty flippin awesome.
But so what?
Can I be honest for a second? I'm wearing thin over here and I am losing my virteous patience.
I bite off my kids' head. I snap at their behavior.
My busyness keeps me from engaging my kids
and I think I say, "I don't have time for this!" more than I tell them "I love them"!
What the heck??
When my children are all grown up I doubt they'll celebrate all the things I've done or how well I multi-tasked. I want them to remember the time we spent together. I want my kids to have memories of dominoes and Candyland. I want my daughter to tell her daughter she learned to make the family recipe for sugar cookies with me. I want my sons to know that when I went to their soccer games I was watching without the cell phone between us. I want to live a life where I'm not too busy or impatient for my own kids.
I'm speaking from my heart here, folks.
We are all so busy these days that it is easy to get caught up in all the important stuff we do. But when that stuff, comes before our children, I think it's time we take a stop back and reevaluate.
Our children want less of our guilt-gifts and more of our time. They want time with us. At least my kids do. I know because my daughter wrote about it in her second grade journal. She was prompted to write about her favorite time with a family member. She wrote about a day that she and I went window shopping.
She didn't write about an expensive vacation.
Or her birthday present.
She wrote about a day that we did nothing but wander around together.
It was a day I didn't rush her. We didn't have anywhere else to go. It was just time we spent. Together.
We all crave connection. Even our children.
If the thought of carving out more time in your life when you're already busier than you care to be sounds impossible I have a suggestion. Instead of rushing into the kitchen and starting dinner, jumping on the computer, or answering phone calls upon arriving home try pausing just a moment.
I know things need to be done. I do. But pause. Don't fill the space so quickly with what needs to be done. Wait just a second and allow space for connection.
Try having a conversation, not for information gathering but to connect, or for wee ones have a cuddle on the couch.
Or consider doing tasks together. Will dinner take longer? Could you get more done better? Of course, but just think about what you communicate to your child if instead of plopping them in front of the iPad or TV, you invite them to share your space as you move about your tasks.
Holdiay breaks are on the horizon for so many families, I hope we don't dread the time home with our kids. Instead let us embrace the endless possibilities for time well spend with the people we love the most.
(While updated, this article originally appeared in my Practical Parenting series for The Review Atlas in 2003).