Raise your hand if you've heard this before: "You're a mom? You must be so patient." If you're anything like me, what you want to say is, "No, actually, I have zero patience and my child frequently makes me want to poke my eyeballs out." Maybe some mom are naturally zen-like, but I'm not one of them. As a new mother, patience was something I had to learn. Fortunately, kids give you plenty of opportunities to learn patience is a virtue.
It's funny because I was an elementary school teacher for 13 years, so people just assume I'm some sort of patience guru. I actually had very little tolerance for crap of any kind (just ask my students) when I was in charge of a classroom. Of course, it was a different story when it came to my own child. I mean, third graders are relatively easy because, at that point, they're mostly voice-activated. Also, I only had to deal with them for six hours a day. As a stay-at-home mom, however, I have my daughter all the time and there's no break or recess or summer break.
Most of the time it's wonderful, but sometimes I want to lock myself in the pantry and eat some Red Vines. I guess, in her own little way, my girl is teaching me to be a more patient person. So, thanks? I guess.
When They Make A Goddamn Mess
My daughter has this charming habit of throwing her plate and placemat on the floor as a polite way of saying, "I'm finished." This is especially sh*tty because she can actually say the words, "All done." One day, for lunch, I heated up her chili and was just settling down to enjoy a bowl myself, when she gave it the old heave-ho. There was chili on the floor, on the wall, and on my cat. I breathed in deeply, encouraged the dog to lick it up, and let her chili-covered self sit there until I finished.
Children are disgusting little creatures, but when they're your disgusting little creatures, your deep love for them will allow you to wipe away their green elevens (that's teacher code for a runny nose — think about it) for the umpteenth time that day.
When You're Trying To Leave The House
Why does five minutes before we have to be out the door seem like a good time to dump all my bobby pins on the floor of the bathroom? It must be really funny to watch mommy scramble to pick them up and try to keep them out of the toddler's mouth.
I've heard tell of older children whose day you can ruin by asking them to put on pants or who can never seem to find their shoes. Lucky for me, my kiddo still seems to think going "bye-bye" is an adventure, but maybe that's just because she knows that, as soon as the garage door opens, she can flee to the front yard and initiate a rousing game of "I'm Gonna Get That Baby." It is, admittedly, a fun game. Just not when you have time constraints (or, incidentally, when one of you is naked).
When They Want You To Read That Book/Sing That Song/Put On That Movie Again
Toddlers love repetition. I mean love it. I know it's a great thing that my kid wants me to read to her, but I swear to all that is holy, if that child brings me I Love You, Stinky Face one more time, I will lose my damn mind. No, my wonderful child, I will not "live by the swamp and take care of you always." I will burn that sh*t to the ground.
One morning when we were Skyping with my deployed husband, he thought it would be fun to ask her if she wanted to shake her sillies out. During breakfast. He never made that mistake again, for hell hath no fury like a mom who's been made to sing Raffi all day.
When You Need To Cook Dinner
What is it about the fact that I am lovingly preparing a meal that makes my kid completely lose her sh*t? The closer she gets to actual food, the angrier she becomes. I have to calmly explain to her that I can't pick her "up up up" because I don't want her to be sprayed with hot oil, burned by boiling water, or cut while I chop carrots.
As anyone who has tried to reason with a toddler knows, honey badger doesn't give a sh*t. There's nothing to be done but try and distract and get that food prepared as fast as your mean mommy hands can manage.
When They Have A Public Meltdown
Target is literally my favorite place in the world. It brings me great pleasure to fill my red cart with crap I don't need. There's only one thing that can ruin it, and I made her myself.
On one particular trip she'd actually been pretty good, even putting back a stuffed animal she'd been carrying around. But I made the rookie mistake of taking her out of the cart. When I tried to put her back at checkout, she was having none of it. Suddenly, I was that mom. I calmly paid for my items as my daughter screamed and kicked at my feet, but on the inside I felt like I'd drunk a mortification and anxiety cocktail.
When They Take Off Their Clothing In The Car
According to my mom, my dear sister would immediately remove her socks and shoes as soon as she was in the car. They were "boddering" her, you guys. While my kid doesn't do that, she does have an equally delightful MO: taking out whatever hairdo mom has chosen for the day. She's perfectly coiffed when I place her in her carseat, but by the time we get to our destination, she looks like f*cking Ace Ventura.
I swear she knows I can't do anything about it because she makes eye contact with me in the rear view mirror when she's doing it (just like my sister's cat when he took a crap on the rear dash). She also has a knack for "losing" her hair ties. I'm just hoping against hope she's not eating them.
When You Really Need Them To Stay Still
I'm not religious, but my mother-in-law is, so I agreed to bring the little one to Christmas Eve mass. Do you know how long Catholic mass is? Well, it's even longer when you arrive half an hour early to get a seat because of all the people who only show up to church on special occasions (i.e. me). I spent the entire time completely agitated as I tried to keep my daughter occupied with anything and everything in my diaper bag. At one point, she had my credit card in her mouth, as my in-laws looked on in horror.
I try and avoid situations where she has to sit still, but sometimes she just has to. Like at the doctor's or dentist's office. So that means mommy's arms become the baby straitjacket. Which naturally she just loves (insert sarcasm font). Sometimes, however, your patience is rewarded. For my holiday efforts, my mother-in-law gave me my two favorite "b" words: babysitting and beer.
When They Just Have To Do It Themselves
Dearest child, if you would just let mommy help you, it would go so much faster. While this is true, it's not actually good for kids. Toddlers especially are learning to assert their own agency. They need lots of opportunities to try, fail, and try again. I'm all about that. But could they maybe not do it when I'm in a hurry? Or in dangerous situations? Please?
My 19 month-old has a serious independent streak. She's actually started to push my hand out of the way when I try and help her. This means it takes approximately a fortnight to eat a bowl of oatmeal, only a third of which will actually make it into her mouth. *sighs heavily*
When They Undo Everything You've Accomplished
Cleaning up after a Category 5 Toddler Hurricane is no mean feat. I try to only do it once a day, right before bedtime. I've found it works best if she's distracted. Heaven help me if I accidentally activate the burner on her play kitchen or the creepy talking picnic basket because she'll come a-runnin' ready to wreak havoc all over again.
She's quite the little paradox wrapped in a riddle because she likes to put things away. So she'll put all the wooden farm animals back in the barn, but then dump a puzzle on the floor. I frequently give up and wait until my little tornado is down for the night to finish, even thought it seriously cuts into my sacred wine and Netflix time.
When They "Help" You With Chores
This is the worst because you don't want to discourage your child from helping out around the house. But you also don't want to have to redo everything later or clean up an additional mess. The little one loves to help with the dishes. She stands on the door and hands me silverware, and I am terrified that she will impale herself on the rack.
Laundry is also a favorite pastime. It's pretty hilarious to watch her grunt while putting clothes away in a drawer, clutching a dryer ball. I try to enforce the rule that she can only play with clean clothes that I haven't folded yet. But I fear she'll never be able to resist the siren's call of mom's rolled up underwear.
When You Have No Idea WTF They Want
Before your child can talk, figuring out what they need is a real challenge. But honestly, it's not that much easier when they have words. Baby girl frequently points to the kitchen and says, "Mama, mama, mama!" Cute, you say? No, she's attempting to say "more" in Spanish. I am "Mommy", and I only hear that if she's really pissed.
This is a typical conversation in our house:
Me: Do you want water?
Me: Do you want milk?
Me: Do you want a snack?
Me: OK, but you can't have any peanuts.
Toddler: *screams as if being burned alive*
At this point, I pick up my daughter, kiss away her tears, get her some goldfish crackers, and quietly mutter to myself the motherhood mantra: This too shall pass.