When Mom's Patience Runs Out

At 9 last night, my older daughter informed me that she wasn't sure where her math homework was. We looked in her folder. No math homework. We looked on the kitchen counter. No math homework. We looked in her backpack. No math homework.

Frustration squeezed my brain. This was the second night in a row that we had had this conversation at 9 p.m. I gritted my teeth and explained the realities to my daughter. Even though her math homework could be in her locker at school, she had to redo it. So, she rolled out of bed and redid her math homework while I watched my hour of solitude quietly tick away.

I know my daughter is learning organizational skills. I should be proud of her for at least worrying about where her homework is. But last night, I was out of patience. My younger daughter had been home sick all day, thereby blowing my Monday plans and any work getting accomplished to smithereens. My husband had a meeting at church.

I was probably harsher than I should have been on my daughter. She's usually a fairly organized, responsible kid. I never yelled, but I definitely made her feel bad. Because I was out of patience.

The irony of all of this is that last week, our Mom Matters group talked about the Godly characteristics of love. We each had to choose a quality of love to work on this week. I chose patience. I should have known better. God has given me plenty of opportunities to practice patience this week, and I'm sad to say that I have failed most of them.

What I have learned about patience this week (other than the fact that I don't have very much) is that it requires me to be unselfish. It requires me to put the interests of others above my own. Patience with my kids requires me to value teaching and loving them above my schedule, my chore list and my own desires.

And I've discovered this week that I'm innately selfish. I didn't want to deal with homework at 9 last night. I wanted to sit down, read my book for an hour and go to bed. My selfish desires led directly to my lack of patience.

But I need to be patient with my kids. They need me to take the time to teach them. To take the time to love them. To take the time to put their needs first. When I lose my patience, I lose the teachable moments with my kids. When I blow up or even snap at my kids, I put them on the defensive, which closes their ears and brains to most of what I have to say.

God is patient with us. He waits and He waits for us to figure out that His way is the best way. He takes the time to teach us and to discipline us. He loves us.

I've discovered this patience thing is hard, and I can't do it. My meager human heart simply can't create enough love for me to be patient all the time. But God can. I can tap into God's love, which can fill my heart and overflow onto my kids. And His love is always patient.

So this week, I'm going to quit trying to be patient on my own and let God take over. Because that's the only way I'll ever find all the patience and love my family needs.

Linking up today with Time-Warp Wife.