This morning, I was making breakfast for Skye when she was showing me different drawings she was creating on a scratch pad that Donna had brought from the zoo. It had a bunny on the frame and she was "sending things to the bunny." She asked me to look at each of her creations, and whether I asked her what the drawings were or guessed wrong, she looked incredulous that I was unable to see what she had drawn. She would say "No, mama! That's a mail box!" when I had wondered out loud if it was a house.
She had me believing that I must have invented stupid. The exasperation with which she kept correcting me made the game mercifully short, but it got me wondering about my temperamental artist. Is patience learned or innate? I know I find myself at my wit's end when I have to answer the same question several times or pick up the same toys from the same spot or correct the same behavior over and over again. So, perhaps the question should be, "Is impatience learned or innate?" If I look at myself closely, I think it must be learned.
It's no wonder children shut down and stop trying, if the way Skye's reactions to what she perceived as my utter stupidity are simply a reflection of my parenting style.
I told Donna recently that I've felt incredibly fragmented trying to balance work with the kids' needs and my volunteering at the school and my desire to keep writing and finding ways to make ends meet in Northern NJ. At the end of the day, I don't even know how to spell my name. I think my plate is so full that it propels me into a manic space where I don't have the patience to stop for one minute to answer Skye's questions and foster her natural curiosity, not to mention our relationship. It's not only affecting my relationship with the children. It's also affecting my relationship with my wife.
My best friend reminded me that I need to stop and open my eyes up to the simple joys of life, rather than surrender to the crushing stress that so many of us live with. So, I'll remember to look people in the eye and thank them when they open a door for me. I'll also remember to find ways of being kind to everyone I meet, maybe even being kinder than necessary, because their private battles may be more profound than I could imagine.
So, rather than feel like I invented stupid, I'm going to take a wake up call from my wife and children and find a way to invent serenity. And, I don't even think it's a matter of clearing my plate, because the things on it are truly blessings. I think it's as simple as realizing that my plate overflows with blessings and to honor and respect them as such.
It's funny, as I finish this piece, I feel better already.
- Stacy Graffam
- I'm a lesbian mom in an inter-racial relationship, living in Bergen County, NJ. My wife and I are raising two beautiful children, an eleven year-old son and a six year-old daughter. I'll be sharing our adventures in faith and parenting on a regular basis. My entries are also published in Gay Parent Magazine (www.gayparentmag.com).