Before I became a father, I liked to think I had all the patience in the world. Not only did I have experience working with the elderly, but I’ve also worked in the food service industry for almost a decade.
As you can imagine, when you work with the elderly you need to have patience; and a sort of sensitivity when it comes to their physical and mental health. Sometimes their physical needs require your assistance (ie: helping them stand up), while their mental needs might require your undivided attention.
There were times when it become overwhelming, but you have to remind yourself – you are there for them, to aide them in whatever way they might need. Looking at it from this perspective, it becomes a reassurance that it’ll ultimately be for a greater good. Not only for whomever you’re helping, but yourself, in that it teaches you to be patient with the task at hand, even in times of frustration.
My history working with the elderly and in food service, in the beginning, were one and the same. I worked in the kitchen and dining room of an assisted living home; serving residents of the community.
Eventually, I left and started working as a waiter in a restaurant, to which I still do to this day. Working in a restaurant atmosphere, although similar, was much different. The food, the people, the whole dynamic combined to create a wholly different atmosphere.
When you work in food service, you should expect there are going to be some slips here and there. Ultimately, you’re working with food and people love their food, so you can see how it can become touchy at times. If you work in a restaurant setting there’s nothing you won’t experience – allergies, pickiness, and, sometimes, plain rudeness. Whether you’re trying to help a customer settle on an allergy-free option, or biting your tongue when the occasional customer becomes rude, it all helps you to grow a thicker skin.
After years of learning patience through these work-related endeavors, I truly considered myself a very patient person. But nothing prepared me for the patience I’d need as a father. This isn’t to say, my almost-8 month old son is a handful, because he’s not. He is literally the most mellow baby I, or most people for that matter, have met. He has such a great personality and, luckily, fusses very, very little. But, he is a baby after all. Which means, he’s going to have his moments whether it’s a fussing or crying fit, it’s inevitably going to happen from time to time. Babies cry.
This is exactly the parenting scenario that’s meant to test your patience (sometimes perseverance) – to set aside any reaction to the situation and focus on the needs of your child. Naturally, my first choice is to continue coddling him and work toward calming him down to cease the crying. Most of the time shushing, rocking or holding him close works well. Then there are the times that nothing you do seems to comfort your child. You can try and try to get them to settle down, but they’re just not having it. After so many times, the incessant fussing and screaming start to grind away your nerves.
When it gets to that point, as a parent you feel helpless. Nothing you do seems to help comforting this amazing, tiny human. Of course, you only want the best for your child. This is when you have to realize that it’s okay to stop, and step away from your child for a few minutes. Babies pickup on mood, and frustration isn’t going to help either of you feel better. Just know, it’s perfectly fine, and healthy, to remove yourself from the situation. Take a few, deep breaths, calm your nerves, and collect your thoughts before attempting to comfort your little fusser again.
In these moments of parenting, your patience is being tested like never before. And if your patience has run out, you need to take a minute or two for yourself, again, for a greater good – the well being of your child. You can only imagine, the older your children become the more your patience will be tested.
So, even if you’ve considered your job or other life events quite trying, there’s nothing that can prepare you for the challenges (and frustration) you’ll face as a parent, and the patience you’ll need to overcome them.
Ultimately, you learn that patience, like anything else, takes practice.