How many times have we heard the phrase "Patience is a Virtue"? When my first daughter was born, patience was certainly not a virtue I had. Not even remotely. This led to some pretty massive failures in my attempts to breastfeed. She was having trouble latching so she was hungry all the time and spent a lot of her first few weeks working on the most pitiful, heart-breaking mewl of a cry that would drive me to tears. I recall one night in those early weeks when I just couldn't get her to latch (yes, I know I should have called a lactation consultant!), that I sat in my rocking chair and lost it. She was crying, I was crying, it was chaos. The only person not crying was my husband. He gently picked her up out of my arms and rocked her until she was calm, burped her, and handed her back. After that desperate night, my husband went out and bought me a little hand pump so we could try to bottle feed her. To this day I've never figured out how to use it quickly and effectively, which led to more frustrated tears, and then finally a trip to the store for some formula. I recall when we finally got her on solids, how easily I would lose my cool when she'd throw her dishes and her food on the floor. Another case of tears over what is really not that big of a deal. Babies throwing stuff is just what babies do. It's kind of their gig. I just couldn't handle the waste, the mess, and the fact that she wasn't eating when I thought she would DIE of malnutrition if she didn't eat EVERY bite of her oatmeal. When I look back I can laugh at myself for being so dramatic.
The more kids we had, the less I had these problems. Breastfeeding stayed hard. It was only with our 4th child that I managed to make it past the 4 month mark. As for the feeding, we switched out to Baby Led Weaning, which made life way easier anyway. I found tricks to avoid the stress that would send me over the edge. It also helps that I don't have 4 tiny babies. Just one baby at a time makes it all easier. My big kids still try my patience. A LOT. But I give in way less than I did with one, or even two. I still find my eye twitching every once in a while when I come in and see the little big brother has drawn ALL OVER the walls of his ENTIRE room with crayon that WILL NOT wash off (How did he even get those crayons??? The sneaky little monkey brought them up while I wasn't looking!). I mean really. When his older sister did that I lost my mind, and she only coloured on one little corner with a crayon that washed off easily. There was yelling, tears, drama, and then a ban on crayons for at least a month. Maybe more. With little big brother I sat him down and talked it through with him. Showed him how hard it was to clean. Told him that the walls were not for colouring on. Gave him a colouring book to exercise his artistic desires. Inside, my brain was screaming, but I managed to keep my cool with him.
So I guess patience really is a virtue. Like every other virtue you don't just wake up one day feeling patient. It's something you learn with great effort, by building up a habit of self-control and gentleness. Some days I still lose my cool. My boys are amazing, loving this wonders, but there are times when the two of them are going nuts in their room at night, waking up their baby sister in the next room that I want to come in their room and let loose the dogs of war on them. If I can't resist, I do my best to send in my husband instead. If he's too overwhelmed then I go in. We need to be firm, set rules and boundaries, and dole out punishments when necessary. That doesn't mean I want to spend my life yelling myself hoarse and crying. With 4 kids filling the day with their individual wildness, that's a real possibility. I have to make a daily choice to be the Mom they need. I may use the crazy eyes once in a while to calm the scene, but I'd rather that than the crazy voice or crying.
I think most importantly for any parents with only one baby, or even a few, is that no one is a perfect parent straight out of the gate. We parents with lots of kids may seem more patient, but that's because we've had time and LOTS of practice. I get to test my patience in fire every morning when the kids wake up screaming for everything. It's a conscious choice we make in every moment to be the Mom they need, even when what we really want is to hide in the bathroom until they quiet themselves down. When you have one kid or even two, you're still learning how to be a parent, so let that be your focus. Don't worry about comparing yourself to other parents, even though it may be tempting. Even with 4 kids (and one on the way) there's always another Mom whose doing it all with more kids. I have a particular Mom I look up to, who has a few more kids than I do, is homeschooling them, making delicious healthy meals, helping out at her Church, and all of that with a smile on her face. There are days that I look at her and think how much better she's doing with all of this than I am and with more kids. Then I remember that I can make her a model of virtue without putting her on too high of a pedestal, especially when that pedestal is built at the cost of my own confidence. So, instead I try to use her example as an inspiration rather than an accusation. When I don't let myself bogged down with raising other people above myself, it's a lot easier to find the joy in all the small things in my own life.