So far, Motherhood has been a long exercise in patience. No surprises there, huh.
Except… I’d always thought that the patience was needed for the baby. That the love, compassion and long-suffering was about dealing with the baby, you know?
The endless crying during Arsenic Hour.
Her uncanny ability to create the biggest mess juuuuust after you’ve slid the soiled diaper away, and before you’ve had the chance to jam the fresh one under.
The fights before sleep time.
The clumsiness, hand-in-hand with baby stubbornness.
The house in perpetual mess.
The fact that it takes 50% longer now to do everything you’ve done before – like leave the house for a walk or a drive, for example.
The fact that you have 90% less time to do things that used to be important to you before – like brushing your hair and matching your clothes.
I mean, all this is true. And it requires patience. But the patience for such things comes naturally, ungrudgingly. With little grumbling or complaint. Effortless.
No. The kind of patience I’m talking about – the kind of patience that needs to be wrung out of me – is patience for others.
Because until I had Arddun, I hadn’t realised how stupid and inconvenient people and things around me can be.
BECAUSE it takes such effort to cart a baby around, BECAUSE she is vulnerable and defenceless, I’ve turned into a grouchy mother bear. It is a fight every day not to growl at strangers for being obtuse to the needs of my poor defenceless baby and her struggling mother with the pram and the 21 other things hanging off it.
Things that threaten to set me off include:
- Competitive, selfish, boorish, impatient drivers who delight in cutting you off, who turn every roundabout into a drag race and/or come within a hair’s breadth of dinting the side of your car where the baby is seated. RAAAWR!
- Big Fat Cars parked willy-nilly beside you so you can’t open your car door to get baby in or out.
- Mothers who don’t wipe down baby chairs after they’re done.
- Smokers near entrances and exits so when you walk through, it’s like entering the Vortex of Baby Lung-Blackening Hell
- Customer service with Attitude (I’m already growing my own teenager. I don’t need your angst or sarcasm. Especially if you’re paid to help.)
- Shopping trolleys left inside the last convenient parking lot, so you and 38 other cars before you were deprived of the one good lot nearest to the lifts (near lift = less time with pram on road with impatient drivers)
And sometimes, it’s manageable. Sometimes, you just grit your teeth and soldier on. But other times, you just want to freeze everything around you so you can get to that selfish stranger (with your crying baby on your hip), and with your free hand, grab that selfish stranger’s neck and shake it so hard you can hear his or her teeth rattle, while yelling,
“You see this shopping cart? You know where it goes? THERE! WHERE THE OTHER SHOPPING CARTS LIVE! GROW A BRAIN AND A HEART AND TAKE A SHORT WALK AND PUSH IT INTO THE SHOPPING CART BAY SO THE REST OF US CAN USE THIS LOT, YOU SELFISH, LAZY, UNTHINKING DONG-KAY!”
(Which is, you know, a euphemism for Ass.)
And while things like that used to bug me before, THEY REALLY BUG ME NOW. Because I have more to lose. Because I’m her protector. Because it’s harder and because I have less time. Because Arddun doesn’t understand, doesn’t read a clock, and doesn’t have patience.
And yes, I am aware of the irony – that while I’m jumping up and down about the supreme selfishness of such acts, I am in fact making it all about ME. I have, in fact, grown a huge entitlement complex. It came free with the stretch marks and permanently widened hips.
And so I try not to take things personally, because that’s half the issue. I’m not suddenly special because I’m a mother, and I’m not suddenly a target because I’m a mother. I’m just a mother.
And so I try to slow down. Do one less thing while multi-tasking. Bear to be late for events. Give 4WDs, Utes, taxis and Audi drivers a wide berth. Smile at rude sales staff after they’ve insulted me, and let them think I’m simple. Because the cure for impatience isn’t patience – it’s submission. I am not in control of everything or everyone and never have been. The universe is large and my troubles, on balance, are trivial.
If we’re having a bad day, pull over and hug the baby. Both of us might feel better after the time out.
Peace like a river, baby.