All about why

I knew I wasn’t a very patient person, but since becoming a mom my impatience has been on display far too often for my liking. I’m too easily frustrated, too often driven by to-do lists.  I like a tidy house and a feeling of productivity – two things that are harder to come by with a toddler who simply wants my undivided attention most of the day.

Obviously, there are times she simply has to entertain herself; it’s an important skill to learn anyway. But too often I find myself placating her, trying to avoid her tears or end her tantrum. So I sigh, sit on the floor, and engage in play.

But is that really doing my best as a mom? Interacting with my daughter out of guilt or annoyance?

I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t matter what we do together – laundry, reading, wrestling, walks, etc. But it does matter why, and how.

It matters what my motivation is. Am I trying to keep her quiet or am I genuinely happy to be part of her games? Is it a half-hearted effort  to distract her by something new or a way to encourage her imagination and watch her learn?

I want to be on my daughter’s level and interact with her because I enjoy being with her, because she is more important than a pile of dishes, because she’s asking for my attention in that moment in whatever way she knows how.

I still appreciate a clean house. I still aim to end the day feeling I have accomplished something – even if it’s just a basket of folded laundry or a folder of edited photos. But now, I’m far more likely to put those things aside when my daughter wraps her arms around my legs and giggles up at me. I’m aware of my motivation, my tone, my presence in each moment.

I think she notices. She’s more accepting when I do step away to complete a task, knowing I’ll be back to read her another story or chase her around the living room when I’m done. I’m a better mom when I can be productive, but I’m learning to set aside my goals on those days when she simply needs me more.

I still lose my temper too often. I still don’t have nearly enough patience. But I hope, I think, I pray that I’m getting better.

What flaw have you struggled with since becoming a mom, and how are you addressing it?

Cheryl Hazelton
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