When someone tells me how patient I am, I’m tempted to laugh. Of course, what immediately comes to mind are all the times I’m lacking in patience: tech problems, making small talk, people in my family not being ready to go wherever we’re headed. I have little patience as a cook, which makes my family a bit cranky. Yes, yes, I should have let the onions saute longer and the chicken get crispier. The reality is that I’ve become more patient than I ever give myself credit for. Some instances are noteworthy. The most significant one is about my mom, who is in dementia care. I’ve gone from wishing and hoping for more from her, to accepting and enjoying her as she is. So what are some surprising places I’ve seen patience appear? You’re going to laugh because last month the lawn care crew came to do the final cleanup of leaves. I watched them out the window for 1/2 hour! Somehow I found it fascinating to see their technique of where to start and what direction to blow the leaves (even if I didn’t agree with it). There’s also something about seeing the property gradually cleaned up that was mesmerizing. My son was an active child with some ADD. Some things we thought would grab his attention, didn’t. But when his great-uncle put him in a rowboat and they went fishing on the lake… well, you could have blown me over. My little boy who couldn’t sit still, did. They did this a number of times, and they could be out there for three hours at a time. Total calm and concentration. Go figure.
One more example. My father told a story about ‘the old country’ and ‘olden times’. (Remember, this was a long time ago when women had little status and became mostly wives and mothers.)
In the villages, when it came time to marry off a son, one of the things they looked for in a young lady was patience. How could they measure that? They’d give her a tangled ball of yarn and see how she did untangling it. Was she quiet and focused? Or was she impatient and frustrated? Guess who can work on that ball of yarn until it’s done? Me. I keep at it, with a minimal amount of frustration. I think it has to do with total focus, and to be working with my hands. (Guess my husband’s a lucky guy! Sometimes, anyway.) What’s the point of all this? 1. Somewhere in your life, you are a patient person. See where it shows up. I promise, it’s there. 2. Identify when you’re short on patience, or another trait you want to improve. What positive result do you want that’s important enough to cultivate it? What’s in it for you (and your family)? 3. You are not one thing or another. You are a complex being, with competing and conflicting feelings, strengths and challenges. 4. Patience is often a function of the task in front of you. Do you anticipate pleasure or satisfaction? The patience magically appears. 5. You can do this. Become an observer of yourself and what’s going on around you. Take notes. Recognize patterns and check your motivation. Watch your patience grow.
Fern Weis is a certified life coach who learned that caring and good intentions are not enough in parenting. In fact, they are often the problem! Fern supports parents of teens and young adults who are going through difficult situations, including addiction recovery. She helps parents release guilt, end enabling and confidently prepare their children to thrive through life's challenges. Her articles are featured in Thrive Global, Medium, Motherly, The Teen Mentor, and Bergen County Moms.
Learn more about coaching and classes at www.fernweis.com. And then download your free guide, "Five Powerful Steps to Get Your Teen to Talk." For information on Family Recovery programs, visit www.familyrecoverypartners.com.