I used to say that I could never work in a restaurant because “I’m a lousy ‘waiter’”. Sitting in a car or a ‘waiting room’, standing in line or out in the cold, holding the phone for an answer or holding my breath for a response all drove me to distraction. Perhaps worst for me was dealing with sloooooow people. I’ve always been quick. I still like quick. Talk to me and you get an immediate answer. Ask me to do something and, BAM! it’s done (or started, at the very least). And, human that I am, it was my belief that EVERYONE else on the planet should be like me. Problem was… they weren’t. Turns out there are people who like to think before they answer a question. There are people who, by choice or necessity, move slowly. And here was the shocker: Not everyone on the planet gives a rat’s patootie about my agenda, my schedule or me! Some people actually have their own issues, motivations and urgent needs… who knew?
My great Patience Transformation started with my son-in-law. He’s a ‘thinker’. There were times when I repeated myself – sure that he didn’t hear. Sometimes he flat out disagreed with what I said. There were times when he was slow to understand. What I learned was that to communicate with him – and I wanted to – I had to slow ME down, see things from his point of view and listen with patience (or blow off a relationship that meant a lot to me).
Then came the birth of my grandson. There is no way to spend time with any kidlet and not have your patience tested. Babies, toddlers and children can try the patience of anyone! But, being impatient with those who don’t do what you want – when you want it; are slow or picky eaters, have to go potty when it’s time to leave, scream and cry when they don’t want to leave, talk when you want quiet time and won’t stay in bed when it’s beddy bye time, is a natural, human reaction… not effective or helpful in any way, but certainly a human inclination. And so, another piece of my transformation began to fall into place. It was much easier, and a whole lot more fun, to cope with the little love of my life when I was serene and calm and unruffled. I like ‘easy’. And I love FUN! Sometimes you just have to laugh at the cosmic jokes. So, I taught myself to lean back into the cosmic humor of watching a child learn and grow.
And now I am the caregiver for my 92-year-old mother. She isn’t quick. She gets confused and forgetful and repeats herself. She hides things and then forgets where. When it’s time to leave the house she can’t find her purse. Sometimes I feel like screaming. I don’t. It wouldn’t help. It would only upset both of us, and hey, this is the woman who taught me how to use a potty (and I can’t even count how many times that’s come in handy)!
Patience Transformation complete!
Sure, I’ve had other ‘teachers’ (Verizon employees and the cashiers at Wal-Mart and Target come immediately to mind). I’ve been on the road with inconsiderate drivers and on airplanes with stinky seatmates, screaming infants and snoring neighbors. I’ve anxiously waited for test results, checks in the mail and cars to be repaired… and I do so patiently. Turns out it makes me happy.
Waiting, when you have a good attitude, isn’t all that hard. In fact, it can be effortless and even enjoyable. Okay, admittedly a quick visit to Face Book or Candy Crush has often played a part in my willingness to wait, but, hey, I’m a really great waiter!