“Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.” ~ Saadi
We just wrapped up our first week of homeschooling full-time. Like everything in life, there were highs (Monday!), lows (taking 4 kids to the dentist and discovering one child has FOUR cavities #momoftheyear) but mostly in-betweens. But one thing did not surprise me, how difficult it is to be present all day, everyday with my kids. How incredibly hard it is for me to be patient with them.
It was unsurprising because for the past 6 years I have been with all of my kids for close to all of the day, every day.
When Elijah was a little guy and Britain was huge in my belly, a sharp hike in our health insurance premium meant that the mother's morning out program I had my eye on was financially no longer an option. At the time, I was devastated. (If that seems dramatic, it's because it was. Motherhood has been a very difficult adjustment for me.) I saw those precious hours of freedom slip away and wondered how I would survive without "me" time in my weekly schedule.
As my journey of mothering continued, I realized that if indeed I planned to homeschool when the kids reached elementary age, I was going to need to be okay being with them for an entire day.
The profound thought occurred to me that perhaps being with them all day long was the best training for, wait for it...being with them all day long.
I've considered the past several years training ground for the season we are only just now moving into. I practiced taking all of the kids to the grocery store, practiced staying at home all day long because of the baby's sleep schedule. Adjusted my pace by waiting on little ones to put away the toys, to finish lunch, to find their shoes.
I discovered anger issues I never suspected I had. I realized how incredibly selfish I am innately. I have gone through season after season where I spring out of bed before dawn and race to the sanctity of this kitchen to plead for renewal from my Source before the littles come wandering out of their beds. Not out of piety. Out of necessity.
It continues to stretch me, this being with my people all. day. long. I have not arrived, not by any stretch of the imagination. But I do think I am growing more patient through practice. I am coming to understand that maybe, just maybe, I had a lot more growing to do than most people. 4 kids in 5 years, God knew just how much training I needed.
The other day I read that the ability to be present and patient are not gifts a select few people possess, but are instead muscles that we all have. With regular exertion, the muscles of patience and presence become stronger. Using them feels more natural and they are more readily available when called upon. But the opposite is also true, without an intentional strain against their limits, your presence and patience muscles will atrophy.
Whenever someone learns about our family's lifestyle choices I tend to hear something along the lines of, "you must have the patience of a saint!" to which I can emphatically say, nothing could be farther from the truth. But I hope, if they could see where I started from, they'd say instead, "girl your patience muscles are looking goooood!"