Patience is something that’s really tested in your caregiving years.
My mother used to take 15 minutes just to cross the parking lot–and that was from the closest handicapped spot! At times, I was so impatient that I can remember feeling as if I would pull all my hair out by the roots. She had Parkinson’s, and changes in flooring (car to asphalt, brick to carpet) would completely stall out her brain. She’d stand shaking, sweating, and sometimes crying. She refused a wheelchair, and although at times it limited where she could go and what she could do, I understood. Perhaps she had too much pride, but at 90, who wants to start working on your pride issues?
Later, my mother developed Alzheimer’s. You talk about one GIANT test in patience, Being a sandwich geneartion mom did and didn’t help matters. I had to be a decent example in front of my girls. The old saying, “What goes ’round, comes ’round,” reminded me that how I treat my mom is how I will be treated. But in my defense, I had three, count ’em three teenage daughters–now that’s not funny! Ever been around a snarly 14 year old girl? I felt pushed to the edge of the cliff. How much frustration could I take without snapping?
I had to learn how to let go and forget about getting somewhere on time, forget about getting dinner on the table. I had to learn how to not let the ten-thousand question game get to me.
“Just let go,” I used to repeat like a mantra.
I didn’t want my mother to “suffer” because she had a disease. She was suffering enough–in her body, and how she perceived herself. I didn’t need to shame her. I felt like I was right back with my two-year old and we were staring at an earthworm on the sidewalk. You can’t rush a toddler, and there’s something amazing about that. They teach you to slow down, appreciate things, look around.
I used to lean my head on the door jamb and just wait for my mom’s brain to click in gear. Yeah, sometimes I wanted to ram my head against the wood, but what good would that do? After a while, I learned to simply enjoy my thoughts as we waited.
In the movie Evan Almighty when God (played by Morgan Freeman) tells Evan (a modern day Noah) that people ask for virtues such as patience all the time. They think that poof! they’re going to get doused with patience as if were fairy dust. It doesn’t work that way. God tells him that if when a person prays for patience, He is obliged to give them a situation in which to learn patience.
Wow~ I get it. (and I’m going to be careful about my prayers and wishes!)
Here are a few tips I learned about being patient:
- If I really need to get something done, do it first thing in the day.
- Get mad and impatient at the disease, not the person.
- Most things you fret about–being late, not getting something in on time–they don’t matter that much anyway. If they did, would you really have waited til the last minute?
- Start to enjoy the slower pace. Yes, elders usually eat slow, walk slow, rest more. Is this such a bad thing?
- Laugh–or cry–whatever will get you though. Our emotions are like a water hose. When they start to flow, knotting up the hose is only going to cause a serious blow out.
Patience is a muscle that gets stronger every time you exercise it, even for just a few minutes at a time. The main person to be patient with–is yourself.