Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 12:03 a.m.: The four digits on our alarm clock — 12:03 — stared back at me in a seemingly mocking silence. It was almost as if they knew that I desperately wanted to be anywhere but there — waiting patiently (or as patiently as could be expected at this time of night) in the dark for my two-year old to stop her one-sided dialogue and drift off into dreamland. As I wondered how long it would take Clara to fall asleep — she had been put to bed two hours earlier — I listened to the tick-tock of the baby swing, which had now taken up residence in our room, lull Elyse to sleep. Besides the red glow from the alarm clock, the only other light visible in the room was radiating from the baby monitor seated on the night stand. Normally, I would have switched on the TV to catch an old Friends rerun while I passed the time. However, I was reluctant to turn on the flat-screen for fear that the strobing effects of my favorite syndicated sitcom would disrupt Elyse’s slumber. While I waited for Clara to finish yet another rendition of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” I found myself drifting off. For fear that she would somehow manage to get out of bed, open the door to her room and find herself in the pitch black hallway, I decided to download a reading light app to my phone and try to finish off a few more chapters of the latest mystery I was absorbed in — a kitschy, easy-read entitled “The Cream Puff Murder” by Joanne Fluke. Finally, at 12:15, the monitor stood silent — Clara had fallen asleep. I switched off my reading light app, crawled out of bed and made my way to her room across the hall. After oh-so-carefully opening her bedroom door (Note to self: Must apply WD-40 to bedroom door hinges), I tip-toed to her bed and peered over the bed rail. My little blonde miracle was curled up in the corner of the full-size bed sleeping peacefully. I let out a sigh of relief and returned to the warmth of my own bed. Both girls were sleeping soundly; now it was my turn to retire for the night.
As you know, last Thursday’s blog post was delayed as I spent most of the week chasing after Clara and tending to eight-week old Elyse. Taylor was on his first long business trip since Elyse’s birth and I was on my own — left to fend for myself with a toddler and infant in my sole care. My only goal each morning was to get us all up, dressed and properly fed. The rest of the day was spent playing and nursing. I did my best to get in my daily workout while Clara napped and tend to an additional chore or two if time allotted. When Taylor returned on Friday night, he complimented my ability to make it through the week unscathed. I admitted that I did have a moment of weakness during Thursday night’s bedtime routine when both girls were hysterically crying, but otherwise, I did my best to get us through each day. Thanks to a little bit of patience and a whole lot of chocolate, I successfully played the role of a single-parent for five whole days.
Since becoming a mother, I’ve had a lot of time to hone and refine one of my all-time weaknesses: Patience, or rather my lack of it. But, when you have a child, you have to give them, as well as yourself, sufficient time to learn, grow, and tackle tasks. Before Clara (or B.C. :0)), I had only a limited amount of patience. But as I quickly learned, unfortunately, everyday can’t be planned and not all things happen according to your schedule. One of the things that I love most about Clara is the fact that she’s taught me that it’s okay to drop everything to stop and savor the moment. She’ll only be a baby and toddler once in her life, so I’m trying my best to enjoy every minute with her; even those that aren’t so pleasant (i.e. her recent two-year old temper tantrums).
Once I found out that I was pregnant with Elyse and would be experiencing the highs and lows of a treated NAIT pregnancy, I knew that my “patience threshold” was just going to increase. Having to wait for test results, bide my time between ultrasounds and just get through the 36 weeks and four days of my pregnancy tested my limits. I found that distraction really was the key to upping my patience tolerance. Clara kept me busy while Elyse grew in my womb. Watching Clara learn to speak in complete sentences and grow into toddler clothes helped motivate me to move forward each day in my pregnancy, despite the odds. And really, how can one not help but to develop a deeper threshold for patience when hooked up to an IV for 11 hours each week over the span of four months? Balancing infusions, motherhood and my job at Bridgewater State University forced me to prioritize my life, while teaching me to postpone or let go of some of the little things that really didn’t need my attention at the time.
Now that Elyse is here and I’m a mother of two, I’ve, yet again, upped my patience ante. Last week’s single-parenting stint proved, at least to me, that it’s okay to start a task/project/run/etc. only to be interrupted and forced to return to it later on in the day or week for that matter. Eventually, these things will get done. For me, a Type A all the way, it isn’t easy to begin a task only to have to come back to it later. But, as I sit here with only three out of four loads of laundry folded, a blog post that took me over a week to write and multiple other projects still in the works, the woman who would once-upon-a-time unpacked an entire house in less than a week at more than nine months pregnant, smiles at herself knowing that as long as her children are happy, healthy and thriving, it is important to, “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself” – Saint Francis de Sales.