Every mom has those moments, the ones where you have to be out the door 10 minutes ago, and the only thing keeping you from getting in the car is your preschooler trying to tie their shoe. “No! I can do it!” is the response to your offers of assistance. Some of us crack, grumpily say something dismissive, hastily do it ourselves and are out the door a little bit quicker and a little more stressed. Some stifle the urge to intervene, but quietly seethe, just a bit, until we can finally leave. Others still, those “perfect moms,” wait patiently while their little one finishes on their own, offers a word of encouragement and then float out to the car on their magic mom cloud with their smiling child and go along their merry way. I don’t know many of those last kinds of moms (at least not any that are that way all the time), and I’m embarrassed to admit that I personally fall into the first category.
Shelby has always been on the independent side, wanting to do things herself and do them her way. Lately she’s been choosing her clothes and dressing herself in the mornings. I love it, because it’s one last thing I have to do, she gets a great sense of personal pride from it and has pretty good 4 year-old fashion sense if you ask me (*polishes nail on shirt*). But some days, when we have somewhere to go for instance, that’s just not going to work for me. There’s coordination to consider, not to mention the weather. She doesn’t get why she hasn’t been able to wear any spaghetti-strap sundresses the last few days (with the temp topping out at 40). When she must be forced to wear clothes that are not of her choosing, dressing herself makes her feel more in control. And that’s cool, I respect that. But she’s sooooooooo slooooooooow. I admit, I have less patience than any mother should. I tap my foot and I sigh loudly, and too often I get too frustrated and somewhat angrily do it myself. I really hate that about myself, and it’s one of my resolutions this year to make a conscious effort to be more patient. After all, I’m a stay at home mom, and beyond the housework and the errands, my number one job is taking care of my favorite little person.
That fact alone, though, isn’t enough to keep me from wanting to scream when she’s buttoning her pajama top. One. Button. At. A. Time. So. Very. Slooooowly. But I’ve realized I need to take a second to take notice of what’s going on: She’s doing it. All by herself. This little thing that couldn’t even drink out of a cup with no lid, or who couldn’t talk or ride a trike not that very long ago, is actually using her tiny little fingers to do what is actually quite a complex dexterous task. When you look at it in that (somewhat dramatic) way, it makes it a bit easier to breath for a minute and let them do it, because you realize it‘s value- a developmental milestone. I remember not long after we moved, we had to be somewhere, and she was looking for the exact fairy she wanted to have in her pocket. She couldn’t find the right one, and in my frustration I told her “Just pick one! It’s not important!“ She replied, “But mama, it’s important to me.“ Bam. Right in the heart. It’s things like that that make you step back and think. She’s not dragging it out to goad me, she’s being deliberate. And while my child is one of the champion dawdlers of the world (payback my mom says, apparently I was a pro “daisy picker”), I know that when it comes to carrying out a task, unless she’s trying to get out of it all together, she’s trying to do it right. And I’m glad. She can’t go through life with me doing everything for her. I refuse to tie her shoes for her when she’s thirty, you just have to draw the line somewhere. So I’m glad she’s so keen on practicing now.
My child is my first priority, and I’m working to work at her pace. I mean, what do I have to do that is so important I can’t take a few minutes to let her choose which oatmeal she wants in the morning, or which stuffed animal she wants to sleep with at night? I’m pretty sure those socks will still need sorting when I’m done waiting. As a first time mom, I’m finding out everyday those tiny little battles and triumphs that non-parents don’t even know exist and that get a small from veteran child raisers when I talk about them. The molasses time warp of having a preschooler is just the tip of the iceberg.
I expect tardiness to Kindergarten to be quite frequent.