Patience is a virtue. I used to hear this a lot when I was a kid, apparently, I wasn’t very good at it. Patience is being able to wait for something with a good attitude, calm, and without complaint. If you can do that, its a great skill and admirable quality to have. The proverb has been around for a long time and whilst it’s not clear who said it first, it’s a character trait that people have aspired to have for centuries. These days, we talk a lot more about delayed gratification in a world of instant everything rather than the old proverb. I believe they are one and the same.
I’ve seen a lot of articles recently about Amazon and other online vendors being unable to keep up with demand and extended delivery times and it started to make me wonder about how much of our current situation has forced us to wait for things and how that has affected my patience. Since moving to the US, I’ve become accustomed to being able to get anything I want in 2-3 days, even in our remote valley in the mountains. If something was going to take a week to get here, that felt unacceptable. In the current climate that 2-3 days is now 2-3 weeks if you can find it at all. Initially, I felt frustrated when this started happening. As time passed and the magnitude of what we are facing in this global crisis has become apparent, my attitude has changed significantly. I feel, not impatient, but grateful that we have food on the table, warmth in the form of clothing and shelter, and our basic needs are met. Having to wait 3 weeks for the kids to get new shoes or to get a desk so I can work from home more comfortably, is definitely not a big deal. We make do with what we have, happily.
Beyond the consumerism part of patience, my ability to be patient with the kids has also improved. In our first few weeks at home, there was a LOT of yelling. I was trying desperately to keep up the same amount of work, housework, etc. but had also added in an extra 6-7 hours of childcare a day. Everyone was stressed out and it was not sustainable. As the weeks have gone by I have adjusted my expectations significantly. When I come home at midday, I know I’m not going to be able to sit at my computer until around 3 PM when it’s quiet time, it just isn’t fair to expect a 2 & a 4-year-old to sit quietly while I work. So I engage with them. We bake cupcakes, paint rocks, read books, and have dance parties. Then, when they are sick of me, I get some more work done. Being patient with yourself and others, as well as adjusting expectations, definitely helps move on from the stress.
Simple living is not easy living. It is living with intention (thinking about your choices before you make them) and not “buying” into the hype. It’s also slowing down, being grateful for what you have, being present, and practicing patience. Hopefully, this will be a virtue we can keep beyond this current crisis and into the future.