I've been a mother now for almost 15 years. As you all know, that entire time has been spent being a mother to boys. When I first embarked upon this journey, I had no idea what was in store for me. I naively assumed that since I was a "grown up", I was done learning anything important. I, rather arrogantly it seems in hindsight, decided I knew all I needed to know about myself, and that I was done growing as a person.
About the only thing I got right was the part where I called it a journey. And with my boys, its often felt like a never-ending safari; out in the wilderness with all manner of beasts just waiting to pounce on my mistakes.
I've learned a lot of things as I travel through this jungle we're living in, with these wild animals I call my sons. And while I've learned a lot about life and being a mom in general, I've been fortunate enough to have paid attention and learned some things about myself as well.
I am not, by nature, a patient person. I want something done, and I want it done NOW. Or better yet, yesterday! I've always been that way. And yet, I find myself constantly waiting just One More Second, Mom! or stopping to count to ten (twenty? fifty? one hundred? All depends on the day....) while I attempt to look deep inside myself for a tiny store of patience. Its very difficult to be impatient when you're teaching your young athlete to Wait for your pitch! or to Wait for the snap!, and counseling them on being patient with their own abilities.
So yes, I've learned patience. Or at least, to reach for patience.
I always believed myself to be incredibly self-confident, and never doubted my abilities or decisions in life. And then I had a child that needed just a bit more than the average kid. Jock, despite all his teenage hormones that seem determined to ensure he doesn't make it adulthood, has always been my "easy" kid. From birth, he was always three steps ahead of the other babies, and even now--while he might struggle a bit academically, physically he's ahead of a lot of his friends. But my little Bug.... he's always needed more of my reserves. He's a brilliant child, but his "quirks" make it difficult for him to adjust to what he needs to adjust to in school, sports and life in general. I am constantly second guessing my decisions with him. Should I have put him on medication? Should I keep insisting that he be put in situations that push his emotional boundaries? Am I really making the decisions that are best for him, and not just the ones that are often easiest for me?
So yeah. I've learned to doubt myself. Or at least to make sure I look closely at the decisions I make when I make them.
I've always been an openly optimistic person. You know, one of those "glass half full" types, who remind everyone of Pollyanna. That? Hasn't really changed. I still look at situations with my kids, and even when its something that most people (Coach!) would think was negative or depressing, I see the positive side of it. I have a tendency to see where something can take us rather than see where its tossed us at the moment; where we can grow with it rather than how it could stunt things. The challenges Jock faces in football and baseball? Will push him to make himself a better athlete, and teach him how to persevere rather than just quit. The challenges Bug faces every day with the ADHD, the Bipolar issues and the sensory things? These will ultimately give him a greater sense of self-mastery, and will teach him to be more compassionate to others who may face the same internal demons he faces.
So my optimism? Still there. Only now its joined by a feeling of hope for their future.
I used to be a self-confident, optimistic, impatient woman. One who never doubted her decisions, made sure things got done when they needed to be done, and was blindingly cheerful about the whole darn thing.
Now? I'm a woman who has no idea what she's doing, and seems to be waiting forever for it to get done. One who is always second guessing every decision she makes, but is still convinced that everything happens just the way it should.
I'm also a woman who has learned that its ok to be imperfect; to be careful when praying for patience as that means I'll be put in more situations where I'll need it; and that above all else, hope for the future of my boys makes every struggle worth the journey through the jungle.