Monday, August 11, 2008

A Lesson in Patience

I have always felt like it is easier to learn life's lessons vicariously. I have tried to learn from the experiences of others so that I could live to maximize the good and minimize the pain. This theory has helped me avoid many unnecessary pitfalls and inspired me to glean pearls of truth out of the experiences of others. 

But some lessons we, apparently, must learn through first hand experience. Those lessons learned first hand are the most deeply engrained. For me this most personal and very real "investment" in celestial kingdom has been a lesson in patience. Patience as I wait the rest of my life to hug and kiss and raise my sweet baby girl. Patience with myself as I grieve. Patience with my children as I train them to become women of grace, strength, endurance and ... patience. 

I am glad to hear in your comments that you have found a bit more patience in you when dealing with your children. I want to share this lesson with everyone as much as I can without anyone else having to learn this first hand. So, in an effort to do this, may I write a bit more on the patience I have found in dealing with my children.

In my post entitled "Angry?" I mentioned that my kids were some of the few who were able to anger or frustrate me. That is true. I think it is more often a feeling of frustration than pure anger. We all know how that feels when we have asked a kid to do something for the 5th time and they still aren't doing it. Then we remind them we should only have to ask them once. And they still aren't doing it. Then you have to get up and go help them do it. It is tedious. It is tiring. It is all part of parenting.

Before the accident, I let these tiring, tedious things get under my skin and fester.  By the end of the day the woman I liked to call "Mean Mama" would come out and everybody better be in their beds or watch out.

My home has changed since then. This is for me the best single change born from this tragedy. 

Here I am blogging. Lauren is by my side hatching a plan
All photos by Sabrina Waite age 7

From the time the police finally let me go to the hospital after all their interviews until two days later when the coroner came for Camille's body, I did not go home. I was either at the hospital or my sister's house. I was scared to go home--scared to walk in these doors without her here. 

Then my twin brothers gave a duet of blessings-one to Camille by Darren and one to me from Stephen. Darren was the first brother to arrive and he immediately gave Camille a blessing with Jonathan. It was a beautiful blessing, profound in fact. There was one part of it where he told her there was no fear in love. 

Later after his twin brother Stephen arrived, Stephen gave me a blessing. He said something very similar about there being no fear in love. This opened my heart to feel all the love around me and let go of the fear. I knew I would be alright going home because my home was filled with love, and that was not scary.

Shortly after arriving home, when tempers would flair among my kids, I would quickly sit them down and explain how important it was that there be only love in our home. I explained that now that Camille was an angel, she could only be where there was lots of love. I needed her to be in our home, I told them. So we must be only loving with each other.

I drilled this into them as much as I could. Generally, they have been better lately. But they are still kids. There is still discipline to be done and training to do. Sometimes this training includes a bit of "righteous indignation" to get the point across. But there is never anger anymore. Not from me. Not in my home.

The greatest factor for me in being able to be patient with them when they are being disobedient now is remembering who they really are. I remember the way I saw Lauren, through Camille's eyes. I felt humbled to be her mother. I wish so much that I could let each reader see their own children this way for even but a moment. 

Lauren is getting ready to strike. She is going to "get" her Mama's attention.

You have to understand, Lauren was 2. VERY 2. She was becoming aggressive and demanding. She was at that age where I felt at my wits end everyday. To see her that way of all the kids-- it just made me revamp my whole parenting style. I want to be a mirror to them of who they are and how they should act because of who they are. 

Before she can strike, I "get" Lauren.

I treat them with more gentleness, more respect, and far more patience. Patience has never been my forte. But somehow, knowing I will have to wait like 50 years or so to see Camille--well it kinda redefines the limits of my patience.
I am not sure I can really share this lesson I have learned in a way that will allow you all to benefit from it. But maybe Camille can. I hope next time you are getting frustrated with your kids, she will remind you of who they are and give all you mom's out there a little extra dose of patience.
Lauren "gets" me.