you must have the patience of a saint

People tell me this all of the time. Trust me I do not. Unless of course saints have none. If that is the case, then why yes! Yes, I do!

For a long time my perceived lack of patience has bothered me, but now I realize that it isn’t so much how I feel, but whether or not I act on those feelings.

That seems to be much of what motherhood is about, pushing your own desires down. It starts when you are up in the middle of the night holding your colicky baby who won’t stop screaming. You really really want to toss him out of the window so you can finally lay down and sleep. But instead you walk around gently bouncing the baby. And it evolves from there.

Patience takes practice. It is a skill that you do, not one you feel.

I will never be one of those warm, cuddly women who clutches her children to her large bosom and never raises her voice or utters a harsh word. My children will never look back on their childhood and place me up on a pedestal and praise me for being a completely selfless mother.

That just isn’t me. And not just because of the bosom. I huff and moan and pout. Sometimes I stamp my feet. And I am not sure that a day has passed that I have not raised my voice.

I’d like to think that my children will put me up on a (albeit short) pedestal because of all my flaws and imperfections. That they will be able to say she always tried her best to make time for us, she always apologized when she was wrong, and she treated us with the same respect she expected. And she always made us laugh.

So next time you see me, or some other mother, who appears to have it all together and have the patience of saint, just remember she is probably just faking it better than you.

29 Responses to “you must have the patience of a saint”

  1. Amy Says:

    “Patience takes practice. It is a skill that you do, not one you feel”

    I am having this tattooed backwards on my forehead so that I will see it when I look in the large mirror in my daughter’s room while I am trying to change a diaper on the World’s Squirmiest Toddler.

    THANK YOU. I will continue to practice!

  2. Wendy Says:

    What great timing!!! I was just looking at all your pictures and thinking what a great idealic life you were leading. I had to keep telling myself that pictures only tell part of the story.

    I am glad to hear that you have to practice patience, because since having my second child my patience has gotten even lower. I thought patience was something you have, but now I know it is something you do. I will be practicing. Hopefully, when the kids are in college I will have tons of patience.

  3. Jennifer Says:

    That is so true. Everything we hear from moms (me included) is so EDITED!

  4. STACEY Says:

    I am so there. I will have a very short pedestal too. It’s a mothers dream to be the patient one with no yelling but hey, we are only human. It does get better though. Hang in there.

  5. sarah Says:

    The throwing them out the window thing is a classic. So many many times over the last 5 years I’ve thought that. Even my friends, who know me so well, will say after seeing I’ve had a hard night “So - the window remained closed, then?”

    And I will reply “Yes - I glued it shut last summer, just in case”.

    People call me patient too and I am just continually incredulous that that is what they see.

  6. Sheryl Says:

    This post made me sad, because I used to have the patience of a saint. I never raised my voice, I saw things from the child’s point of view, I was Mary friggin Poppins. But some where along the way about 3 years ago when I had my third kid, some thing happened…I guess I ran out. And the worst part is when I see it reflected in my children’s tone, or attitude. I hope to be as patient as I used to be someday. I’m trying.

  7. zookeeper Says:

    I have more patience now than 14 years ago when I first became a parent. For that I am both thankful and regretful- because I do regret the times I lose my patience and I regret that my oldest children had a less than patient mother when they were little. Because I’m not the most patient in the world, I have learned to apologize to my kids well. I know within milliseconds that I’ve over reacted, and I hope that my apologies at least let them know that I’m human and that I’m trying to be a better parent to make them better parents someday.

  8. Novaks8 Says:

    I hear that ALL the time.

    I always wonder what these women do that make them think I am the most patient woman alive.

  9. Asha Says:

    Beautiful. Just beautiful!

  10. Brigitte Says:

    So I’m not the only one whose not-even-2-year-old goes around saying “stop it” and “in a minute”! I like to think I’m more patient with her than most, but I suspect it’s usually just being too tired and lazy to bother.

    TOO TRUE about the conflict between what we’re thinking and what we’re doing!

  11. T in HD Says:

    Sheryl, the third kid did me in, too. Albeit, I was never Mary Poppins but before #3, I had more days where I thought perhaps I wasn’t a half-bad mum than days where I wanted to run away from home. I love my kids dearly and really want a fourth, but I’m honestly questioning if I’m the kind of person who ever should have been a mum. How can I adore my kids so much and yet be such a mess as a mother? And it’s the worst when I see my attitudes towards them reflected back to me in their behaviour towards one another. I just keep hoping that honesty and apologies and trying to do better will make up for all the times I lose my temper, yell (many times a day) and shout at someone “oh, will you just go away and leave me alone for a while?!” I’m wondering if it would be wrong to have another child. Clearly, my mothering skills are sliding with each child.

  12. chris Says:

    I think that as you add more children to your family you are subtracting from your own personal time. It is important to make sure that you are still meeting your own needs.

    I find that when I am at the end of my rope and feeling annoyed it is because *I* am trying to do something and my children are trying to get me to do something and I am feeling torn.

    I am not a long sufferring mother who always puts my children ahead of myself. I am human mother. I try to treat my children always with the respect that they deserve and also the respect that I want from them. It is a two way street. Am I always successful? No. Am I ever short tempered? Hell, yes.

    But I am always kind.

    I suppose the purpose of this post was to write that while I do not feel paitent, I act patient. Those around me would call me paitent, including my children. I wanted to address the feeling of comparing ones inside to other people’s outside. If that makes sense?

    And I am feeling a bit bad now, because I was NEVER like Mary Poppins ;-)

  13. happymommy Says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your entry was a gift to me today! I have 7 children, and constantly people act as though I must be Mother Teresa…one of my friends (who thankfully has come to know me much better) actually GASPED when I told her that, yes, I do yell at my children.
    So much of motherhood is about doing what needs to be done, as opposed to doing what you want to do.

    Thanks again~

  14. Roxanne Says:

    I can certainly relate to your feelings! People tell me all of the time that I’m such a role model and such a calm, patient mother, but inside, I don’t feel that way. I doubt my eight children would think so, either. I do try my best, but some days are worse than others. Fortunately, I can usually hide at home on those bad days! I enjoy reading your blogs, and it’s so nice to know that I’m not the only person who enjoys being a mommy enough to have so many children.

  15. Sarah Says:

    Thanks for that! You made me want to stuff down my impatience and act patient again (at the end of a long day).

  16. Mary Poppins NOT Says:

    First of all, Mary Poppins NOT really is my “blogging” name. That should tell you something. I have seven children, and I can say patience requires lots of practice. Also lots of humility because of all the apologizing that must be done for actions lacking in patience. My children and I are learning together where the boundries are between their legitimate requests and plain old pestering. As we both get better at this (13 years working on it so far) I feel there are fewer and fewer mommy explosions around here. That doesn’t mean I don’t FEEL like exploding multiple times a day, I just redirect myself. It’s a process. A long, tiring, important process.

  17. Christine Says:

    You always have a way of saying things unashamedly that the rest of us feel, like the throwing them out the window comment! I resonated with your comment about the kids someday remembering you asking for their forgiveness. I think that’s so important and try to do that as well. They need to know we’re not perfect but that our imperfections do not change our love for them.

  18. Nicole Says:

    thanks for sharing! this really made me feel better.

  19. JTS Says:

    amen, amen and AMEN.

  20. Deb Says:

    Thank You…today is one of “those” days where I can’t keep the tension out of my voice and the tears out of my eyes… is all I can do to keep from screaming, but I am doing it.

    The whole thing about not being the only one really helps, doesn’t it?

    so Thank You Chris and everyone who shares in comments too.

  21. Christina Says:

    I think you’re most important point is that we don’t always act on everything that we feel, that when we have reached a point of exploding we choose instead to take a “mommy break” or breathe deeply to gain perspective. Over the last 5 years I have learned what my limits are and how to recharge my batteries. Learning how to recharge myself has been the most important lesson of motherhood so far. Thank you.

  22. Karen Rani Says:


  23. Susan Says:

    Thank you; I especially needed this today.

  24. This Pastor's Wife Says:

    I have nothing to offer this conversation, but wanted to let you know I appreciate the sentiments expressed. Thank you Chris.

  25. Mary Anne Says:

    Children use fights, verbal and physical as a learning tool, all animals do. I grew up in a household with seven other siblings and we had disagreements always. My mother handled them well for the most part. She laid down the ground rules and didn’t interfere until things reached the getting out of control line. Her advice to me as a parent was to choose your battles wisely … There will be bigger ones ahead. As always she was right. Our family grew up to be close. I can’t think of any major disagreements we’ve had as adults. I know I can count on my sibblings for good advice and a shoulder to cry on when I need it. Maybe learning to work things out amongst ourselves was a good life lesson?

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