I really like the idea of picking out a word for the year. My selections have varied over the years. Last year I opted for “grounded” (not the punishment, as evidenced by a fantastically full travel schedule). The year before that I selected “less,” and I’m pretty sure “joy” preceded that.
This year I was struggling to find the right word. It came to me today in the car and while it is not a particularly unique or exciting word, it’s what I need. And isn’t it most often the case that what we need isn’t what’s exciting?
“Patience” is my word for 2018.
But it’s not the snooze fest that it may initially appear to be.
I’m ashamed to admit that it came to me at a stoplight when I had the urge to reach for my phone to see if I’d received an email I was expecting.
I was in the car alone, but I didn’t need anyone there to tell me to not get my phone out.
“Don’t be so impatient. It’ll be there in your inbox, or not, when you arrive,” I told myself as I drew my hand back to the wheel.
And then I realized that my patience is in short supply, and I need to build it up. It may just save lives on the road and will model important safety habits for my daughter.
Speaking of that girl, I need to be more patient with her. She is still a child. While she won’t be for long, being patient with her seems particularly important now, knowing that her days at home are numbered.
I had been driving to pick her up when I hit upon my word. When I arrived, I texted her to let her know I was out front but I added, “No rush.”
In just typing those two little words into my phone, I relaxed a little. Perhaps patience could be a win-win for us both.
A few hours later, when I realized that I’d completely forgotten something, my eyes welled up with tears of frustration and shame.
“What’s wrong with me?!” I wondered. My mind began racing through all I haven’t accomplished around the house and my failings on a larger scale.
Then I stopped.
And I realized that I need more patience with myself. People make mistakes, forget things, have homes that aren’t perfectly clean and need extra time on occasion. It’s okay. If our friends are in that position, chances are we are kind and understanding and, well, patient. With ourselves, however, it’s often a different story. So this year, I’m hoping to have the patience with myself that I would with my friends.
I try hard to appreciate the gift that is each day; I do so with the knowledge that nothing is promised. While that’s certainly true, I’m often running at breakneck speed doing all the things, because it’s possible that if I don’t do them now, I never will.
That would be tragic, but I also think it could be tragic if people say of me when I’m gone, “She was always hurrying.”
Appreciating the gift that is each day means stopping to marvel at how the moonlight was so bright last night that there were shadows on the snow. It really did give “the lustre of mid-day to objects below,” just as Clement Moore described in Twas The Night Before Christmas. It doesn’t always mean getting to everything on the list.
Slowing down and letting things happen a bit more organically could be a really good thing.
So, we’ll see how that goes in 2018. Here’s to having patience – especially with ourselves – during this next trip around the sun, my fellow parents.
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