The cordless phone lies in pieces on the floor. Another broken item, I thought silently. One more example of a lack of self control, an immature temper tantrum. I couldn’t get on to the perpetrator or lecture anyone, however. I couldn’t punish them either. Why? Because it was me, the mom.
Reaching a boiling point was an ongoing issue for me rearing my brood. Somehow, it seemed the extreme would occur and I’d be past my limit and explode. My triplet sons seemed to make a sport of it too. The only proof I have is that a large smile would erupt on their faces when I’d charge like a mad bull or start “raging” as they like to call it. Because then I became the problem, not them. It was an interesting tactic on their part and it took me years to adapt.
When the boys were 3 year old preschoolers, I was barely done feeding and dressing them and their sister when it happened. Three sopping wet, muddy bodies appeared when it was time to load up. I burst into tears, undressed them, and began the laborious process all over again. I also called their dad to come get them because mommy was losing it (again). Why did I not send them wet and muddy to preschool? Because I believed it would reflect poorly on my parenting.
Occasionally I’d take all 4 children shopping. BIG mistake! I somehow repeatedly forgot they couldn’t be captive that long. Wanting so desperately to lead a “normal” life, I’d set myself up for failure. Thinking I could handle it, I’d get two grocery carts and put two children in one and two in the other. I’d push one while pulling the other. I’d also restrain the child from standing in the lower part of the cart by using a belt from a life preserver or by adding piles of groceries on top of him. (One goes to extreme measures when determined.) This tactic did not stop Houdini-like escapes or hair pulling, however.
Once a sitter had them during nap time. I use the term “nap time” loosely because it was more for me. However, we knew they needed a break from each other, so we had them go in their rooms to play or read quietly. Inevitably, they were like magnets being pulled towards one another. Their doors would open slowly and they’d creep towards another’s rooms. One afternoon, a sitter was unaware and found all three boys in one room with a mattress barricaded against the door. The boys were 4 years old and incredulous at times.
I prayed for patience a lot back then which I found out was one of my biggest problems. I was gaining patience alright but it was because of the inevitable, “can’t make this stuff up” incidents which occurred on a daily basis. So maybe it’s true you have to be careful of what you pray for. They are adult children now (isn’t that an oxymoron?) and I pray for their safety instead since I don’t want anymore patience.
Do you like anticipation or do you have to have it yesterday? Ask a two year old and the answer is obvious. Ask a 50 year old and you might get a pause. Of course we all enjoy instant gratification but is that best? With the arrival of convenience apps, and the Holy Grail of them all, Amazon Prime, we are so pampered, it makes patience seem like an old fashioned vice rather than a virtue. I am supremely guilty of this as I enjoy Prime membership more than anyone. It has become ingrained in me to seek the “Prime” options first. This guarantees my delivery in less than three days and the bonus of not having to deal with crowded parking or crowds period. As I ponder my choice, I recognize that time has become more precious to me than money. But what am I doing with my perceived extra time? Am I shopping more, getting more, doing more? Am I actually increasing the quality of my life?
I remember being a child anticipating Christmas. My favorite pastime was to circle the toys I wanted in our huge, Sears-Roebuck catalog that inevitably became a Christmas tree (you had to fold down the pages all the way around to create a standing tree of sorts). Anticipation was the key. I actually had to think, prioritize, and then (audible gasp inserted) WAIT. My choices would be ranked 1-5 but during the weeks leading up to Christmas, that rank changed at least 20 times in order of importance. This proves the point I’d like to highlight- if we had to wait, would our choices and priorities be different?
As we mature, we are granted the luxury of hindsight and life experience. I’ve heard many people say, “If I knew then, what I know now,” and it makes me realize how fortunate we are to gain wisdom through missed opportunity, loss and discomfort. We have to do without, wait, and experience disappointment to recognize value. It hastens the question: if we as a society will be capable of delayed gratification in the future? Will things/ experiences lose value because they are too accessible? It seems a question worth asking. Sometimes, anticipation is half the fun!
Some people have decided to break from social media. The inevitable effects of comparisons, time lost, and the one dimensional view have caused many to opt out. I haven’t heard of anyone bowing out of Prime Membership or deleting convenience apps, however. Even most grocery stores now offer curbside pickup. Why spend all that time loading your own cart when someone else can do it for you AND deliver it to your car?
But what about the loss of the antiquated “running into so and so” at the store? What about the quality control loss since others do our picking? What will we fill our extra time with? If we remain in our own enclave, what societal element is lost? Do instant gratification and convenience even provide long term satisfaction or are we somehow losing something else? I want to know…and I want to know NOW!