Have you ever had one of those days where you know your patience tank is running unusually low? The kind of day when you feel like that part of yourself that keeps you centered and reasonable is nowhere to be seen and you find yourself straying, okay, sprinting off your well-tread path? When you have that kind of day, what is it that gets you back on track? For me, on this particular day, it was a plant.
Two nights ago I completely lost it. My son was sitting at the kitchen counter for two hours attempting to complete a writing entry. He expended more energy whining than the assignment would have taken to complete – had he stopped long enough to get the words from brain to paper.
I was calm at the beginning of the two hours. I offered gentle reminders (but not necessarily encouragement) for my son to please try to focus so he could move on to something more enjoyable (for both of us!). As time progressed I became more and more frustrated by my son’s inability to write more than the lonely sentence already sitting on the page.
My son continued to complain that he was “worn out”. And that was when I really lost it… “If you’re that worn out, put your notebook in your backpack and go upstairs to bed!!” I yelled. I know it’s not deemed politically correct, but I admit it: I do yell. The occasions are rare and I feel immediately guilty. In this instance, I continued anyway. When my son promised he would get his homework done. I stated (okay, resumed yelling) that he was done and to get upstairs before I really lost it. Ha! As if I hadn’t already!
With my son upstairs sobbing, I turned and walked to the sink to load the dirty dishes into the dishwasher.
That’s when I spotted the orchid. My Mom was with me when I purchased it the week we moved into our home three and a half years ago. The blooms were stunning and I couldn’t wait for it to flower again. I am still waiting.
In that moment, I felt that I had more patience for a plant than I sometimes have for my son. Yes, the parent/child relationship is much more complex, but for three years I’ve been faithfully watering and misting and watching. This summer I even repotted the orchid hoping that what it needed was just a little more breathing room. A few months ago when a stem finally began to emerge, I was so excited I actually called my Mom to tell her.
Eventually my son chanced returning to the kitchen. When he did, I opened my arms wide and he walked right into them and snuggled up for a long hug. Truthfully, it was the last thing I felt like I deserved and what I most needed.
In the maybe fifteen minutes that had passed we had managed to “repot” ourselves. This time when my son sat down at the kitchen counter with his notebook I said, “Okay, so you’ve got the first sentence, what’s the next word?” It was still slow-going, but I offered only praise this time. No nagging. Word by word, sentence by sentence my son’s writing entry was completed.
Do I really have more patience for a plant than for my son? No. (Although at the time, I did feel that way.) The orchid just reminded me that I am still a good Mom even if I lose my way occasionally. It reminded me that the love and passion I have for my children is limitless. It also reminded me that as I give my son a little more breathing room, patience and encouragement, when he’s ready, he’ll bloom too.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog.