My New Pal, Patience

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Before becoming a mother, I didn’t know Patience very well. I’d heard of her, but she wasn’t really my type of gal. I was efficient, effective. I got things done in a timely manner and I expected the same from the world at large. 

Once I had children, Patience came knocking on my door. Loudly. She knew I needed her wisdom and her calm, centered soul. I tried to resist, but once I finally embraced the need for her, she gave me so much. I started to breathe. I slowed down. 

She guides me on this path of motherhood, shaping my reactions and sharpening my perspective. Every day.

Patience waits for my toddler to fall asleep for her nap so I can start tackling the to-do list that’s been running through my mind all morning. With each coo and squeal that comes through the baby monitor, I feel time slipping through my fingers. Gone are the days when she’d let me rock her to sleep, and I find myself missing it. Not just the ease of it – how quickly she’d slip into dreamland, allowing me to finally get to those emails or even to take a nap myself – but the feel of her sleeping body in my arms, the weight and warmth of her, the peace of holding a sleeping baby.

Patience watches my son buckle himself into his car seat, a relatively new accomplishment that fills him with pride. She holds in my sigh, resists looking at my watch, and cheers him on. I make a game out of my careful inspection of his work, complete with pretend pencil and pretend clipboard, checking off each buckle of the harness before announcing, “Ready for takeoff!”

Patience catches a glimpse of my belly and doesn’t chide but celebrates, recognizing everything my body has done for me and for my family and for my children. She remembers how long it took to grow and nourish a baby in my womb, and grants me grace as my body finds its way.

Patience listens to my son tell me a story, forces me to put down the spatula just for a couple of minutes so I can really tune in to him. His words are big kid words now, the adorable mispronunciations from his toddler years fewer and farther between. 

Patience takes a slow walk through the neighborhood, stopping to examine bugs, pick up sticks, remembering that kids are not in a hurry.

Patience stops that voice inside my head from attacking me and scolding me about everything I did wrong that day. Patience reminds me of everything I did right, of all the kisses given, stories read, laughs shared.

Patience remains calm even while stopping my son from hitting me, even while my daughter is performing an intricate series of gymnastic tricks while I change her diaper, even while my children bicker and squabble over toy train tracks. She helps me respond to these challenges with strength and grace. And Patience picks me up when I fail and gives me another chance.

Patience recognizes the journey. She acknowledges the lessons learned. Patience offers up memories of how hard it was 2 years ago, 6 months ago – even last week – as evidence of how far I’ve come. Though she is tested often, sometimes many times a day, patience is a gift motherhood has given me. A reminder to slow down, to breathe, to soak in a moment, to be gentle, to be accepting, to be at peace.

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Elizabeth Bettencourt holds a BFA in Theatre and a BS in Secondary English Education from the University of Rhode Island, a Masters in Reading & Literacy from Endicott College, and a Doctorate in Education from Northeastern University. Prior to becoming a stay-at-home parent full time, Liz taught English Language Arts and theatre at Plymouth South High School, where she also served as the ELA department head and the drama club advisor. Liz has also worked as an instructional coach and education consultant specializing in literacy instruction and differentiated instruction. In addition to her work as a mother, Liz currently directs theatre productions for Massassoit Community College and serves on the board of directors for New Bedford Festival Theatre. The majority of her time, however, is spent raising her son James and daughter Muriel with the help of her super supportive spouse, Matt. Liz is excited to be a part of the team at Providence Moms Blog, where she hopes to refresh her writing skills and reflect on this crazy and beautiful thing that is motherhood.