Love Is… Patient

“Spread love everywhere you go, first of all in your own home.”

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about what this actually looks like, and I found myself rather unmotivated. Uninspired, even. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love my husband and kids. But what can I do to spread love every day?

The practicalities of this might be a little easier with a clear picture of what “love” is. And I’m going to go ahead and guess – and, honestly, hope as well – that it’s not what pop culture / Hollywood culture / common post-modern society makes it out to be. Instead I went looking to the first thing that came to mind: good old Corinthians 13.

And it starts out with a doozy, let me tell you. A real stinker.

Love is patient.

P-A-T-I-E-N-T.

Patient.

Now, I can hem and haw and say I don’t really know what I should do on a practical level to spread love in my home. But patience? I know what that looks like (and what it doesn’t look like, for that matter). No excuses.

Patience means listening with my full attention (no reading text messages on the sly) when my 4-year-old is taking 18 minutes to tell me a 2-minute story that I can easily predict the end of in about 4 seconds. Afterall, it’s not going to be all that long before getting her to tell me about her day is like trying to pull teeth using only the power of my mind.

Patience means allowing both my young girls to help with the cooking, even though it will without a doubt take longer and be messier and even perhaps a bit less perfect with their assistance. My goal in making the meal is caring for them. Am I sending a message of love by shooing them out of the kitchen so I can do it correctly by myself? No, I am not (that answer was for me – I’m pretty sure you could figure it out on your own). I have a feeling that truly being patient also rules out letting exasperated sighs excape when they dump in ingredients nowhere to be seen in the recipe. Help.

Patience means letting her click the top buckle on her car seat all by herself, because she can and it makes her so proud, even when it takes her two minutes longer than it would take me, and we’re running ten minutes late because her little brother had three inhuman diapers in the last 15 minutes. Deep breaths.

Patience means playing their games. Again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And not begrudgingly, either. Because all they want is to spend time with me. Does Facebook love me as much as they do? No, it does not. Do I love Facebook as much as I love them? No, I do not. And most of the time they are more entertaining anyway. Most of the time. (Remember when your group of friends went through the phase of creating and taking “how well do you know me” quizzes? That was fun.)

Patience is answering 428 questions a day that start with “How does…?” or “Why is…?” with the best answers I can come up with. Patience is NOT answering: “Just because.”

Patience is letting her sound it out without jumping in. Just wait… she’ll get it… one more try… almost… you’re so close… Oh, for crying out loud, the answer is… try it one more time… YES!! You did it! The smile is totally worth the wait.

Patience is absolutely, positively, under no circumstances letting my extreme, EXTREME frustration show when I have to get up AGAIN to change a wet bed. She’s young. She is doing her best. She did not wake me up at 4am for no reason. I’ll try that deep breathing thing again.

There are so many moments in my day that could go one way or the other depending on how much patience I bring to the situation that I could go on for pages. And ages. As long as the river rages.

Sorry.

But I get the picture. Having the patience to invite my kids to try more things with me and on their own and to diffuse a potentially tantrum laden situation will not only help those specific moments, but will also teach my kids to use a similar approach. Eventually. I hope.

Love is patient.

I could be working on this one for a while.

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