Last week, I was walking around and feeling happy during my second or third trip to Target when it occurred to me that my 18 month old daughter may not really appreciate this unnecessary trip to my favorite store. After all, she is sitting on hard piece of plastic and held in by a single strap that I’m sure is pretty uncomfortable. I can imagine she is wondering many things as we round the aisles.
“Mama has passed by the Cheddar Bunnies aisle at least twice and still hasn’t picked up any for me, weird.”
“Does Mama really need more of those bag clips from the Dollar section? She has so many!”
“I know ‘The Letter of the Day’ song is great, but I know other songs Mom, you can stop singing it.”
I’m sure her choice of a good time would be dancing around our living room with Elmo or spreading napkins all over our apartment… not going to Target.
That trip to Target got me thinking: we are told that as parents we will need a great deal of patience. Patience with crying babies, patience with toddlers, patience with hormonal teenagers, and patience with college kids making mistakes and learning from them. But no one talks about how our babies have so much patience when it comes to dealing with Mommy and Daddy.
Doctors hand babies to first-time moms and dads who have some idea, but no experience, in the very important career field of being a mom. The day before, these babies just hung out inside the mommies’ bellies and were pretty self-sufficient. Then, they come into this world and are given to us and depend on us to know what to do. I mean let’s be real. The book, What to Expect When You Are Expecting, is something you can’t live without, but no matter how much we read and prepare we learn best by experience when it comes to parenting.
That poor first child. She cries because she is hungry, or wet or just plain irritated. It takes a while for Mommy and Daddy to figure out those different cries. I get pretty irritated when I am hungry and I CAN talk. I can’t even imagine not being able to express my feelings with words. It must be maddening.
There are those times in the middle of the night when she is hungry and as I am feeding her I fall asleep. I wake up and the bottle has popped out of the side of her mouth, formula is dripping down the front of her clothes, and she is staring at me quietly like, “You needed a couple of minutes rest, Mommy.”
Then we move to those trying toddler times. Mine is a terribly cute, strong-willed little nugget. She is a petite girl, but don’t let her size fool you, she can pack a punch. She is not at the most patience point in her life so far, but she still has endless patience with me. She is patient when we run errands in the 100+ degree weather, in and out of the hot car-seats, hot shopping carts, hot, hot, hot everything. Of course, this patience is extended and given more freely when snacks are involved.
She is patient when I talk to other women for what probably seems like a lifetime. She is patient when we are up at church all morning on Sunday, and Mommy and Daddy’s attention is divided. She is patient when I take picture after picture and say, “Just one more, I promise.” Then I proceed to take 50 more. The mamarazzi is fierce. She has patience when Mommy kisses her about 500 million times a day. I really don’t think that is an exaggeration, I really can’t be off by more than one or two kisses.
She is patient when Mommy is having a bad day and has a short fuse. There is patience and forgiveness when Mommy loses her temper when she shouldn’t have.
Sometimes it may not seem like they are patient. The screaming really can feel like this baby cannot wait one more minute. However, as soon as they are satisfied, the screaming is (usually) replaced with mama-melting snuggles.
Our sweet babies will not always be patient, just like we will not always be patient with them. Despite the patience or lack thereof at the end of the day, they are still our babies and we are still their mommies and suddenly none of it matters when you are rocking this precious, snuggly baby to sleep.
Now, if I could only be more patient with the people who don’t put the carts away in the Target parking lot, maybe I should take some lessons from my toddler.