Monday, August 11, 2008

A Lesson in Patience

I have always felt like it is easier to learn life's lessons vicariously. I have tried to learn from the experiences of others so that I could live to maximize the good and minimize the pain. This theory has helped me avoid many unnecessary pitfalls and inspired me to glean pearls of truth out of the experiences of others. 

But some lessons we, apparently, must learn through first hand experience. Those lessons learned first hand are the most deeply engrained. For me this most personal and very real "investment" in celestial kingdom has been a lesson in patience. Patience as I wait the rest of my life to hug and kiss and raise my sweet baby girl. Patience with myself as I grieve. Patience with my children as I train them to become women of grace, strength, endurance and ... patience. 

I am glad to hear in your comments that you have found a bit more patience in you when dealing with your children. I want to share this lesson with everyone as much as I can without anyone else having to learn this first hand. So, in an effort to do this, may I write a bit more on the patience I have found in dealing with my children.

In my post entitled "Angry?" I mentioned that my kids were some of the few who were able to anger or frustrate me. That is true. I think it is more often a feeling of frustration than pure anger. We all know how that feels when we have asked a kid to do something for the 5th time and they still aren't doing it. Then we remind them we should only have to ask them once. And they still aren't doing it. Then you have to get up and go help them do it. It is tedious. It is tiring. It is all part of parenting.

Before the accident, I let these tiring, tedious things get under my skin and fester.  By the end of the day the woman I liked to call "Mean Mama" would come out and everybody better be in their beds or watch out.

My home has changed since then. This is for me the best single change born from this tragedy. 

Here I am blogging. Lauren is by my side hatching a plan
All photos by Sabrina Waite age 7

From the time the police finally let me go to the hospital after all their interviews until two days later when the coroner came for Camille's body, I did not go home. I was either at the hospital or my sister's house. I was scared to go home--scared to walk in these doors without her here. 

Then my twin brothers gave a duet of blessings-one to Camille by Darren and one to me from Stephen. Darren was the first brother to arrive and he immediately gave Camille a blessing with Jonathan. It was a beautiful blessing, profound in fact. There was one part of it where he told her there was no fear in love. 

Later after his twin brother Stephen arrived, Stephen gave me a blessing. He said something very similar about there being no fear in love. This opened my heart to feel all the love around me and let go of the fear. I knew I would be alright going home because my home was filled with love, and that was not scary.

Shortly after arriving home, when tempers would flair among my kids, I would quickly sit them down and explain how important it was that there be only love in our home. I explained that now that Camille was an angel, she could only be where there was lots of love. I needed her to be in our home, I told them. So we must be only loving with each other.

I drilled this into them as much as I could. Generally, they have been better lately. But they are still kids. There is still discipline to be done and training to do. Sometimes this training includes a bit of "righteous indignation" to get the point across. But there is never anger anymore. Not from me. Not in my home.

The greatest factor for me in being able to be patient with them when they are being disobedient now is remembering who they really are. I remember the way I saw Lauren, through Camille's eyes. I felt humbled to be her mother. I wish so much that I could let each reader see their own children this way for even but a moment. 

Lauren is getting ready to strike. She is going to "get" her Mama's attention.

You have to understand, Lauren was 2. VERY 2. She was becoming aggressive and demanding. She was at that age where I felt at my wits end everyday. To see her that way of all the kids-- it just made me revamp my whole parenting style. I want to be a mirror to them of who they are and how they should act because of who they are. 

Before she can strike, I "get" Lauren.

I treat them with more gentleness, more respect, and far more patience. Patience has never been my forte. But somehow, knowing I will have to wait like 50 years or so to see Camille--well it kinda redefines the limits of my patience.
 
I am not sure I can really share this lesson I have learned in a way that will allow you all to benefit from it. But maybe Camille can. I hope next time you are getting frustrated with your kids, she will remind you of who they are and give all you mom's out there a little extra dose of patience.
Lauren "gets" me.

57 comments:

**THE SUMMERHAYS CREW** said...

I so needed to hear this today! Even though I just have one 11 month old, I have about had it today. I just want a minute to sit by myself and read or close my eyes, is that so much to ask?? And then, I remembered that she is what make sme happy and to go kiss her even when I am wanting to rip my hair out! So, thank you.

Michele and Wyatt said...

Thank You! I really needed to hear that. I've been trying to be more patient with my children lately. I know I need to look at who they really are. They are children of our Father in Heaven. They are very special and important. I hope I can remember that in the heat of the moment and amongst everyday stresses. Thank you for from your example and for sharing your life with the world. You are a rock!

Carolyn said...

I tell you Steph, this is one of the biggest lessons I learned from Camille's accident! While in your home I heard you telling the girls to have love at home so Camille could be there too. I love that and have done it now with my girlies. I FELT that love in your home. You are so great Steph and thanks for reminding me again to continue each new day with a fresh heart full of patience! I love to day dream about what kind of spirits they each must have been before they came to live with me. And then to think of the potential they have to be like what you said, "women of grace, strength, endurance and ... patience". If I want them to be women with these qualities, I better work on having these qualities myself. Love you.

Lindsay Christensen said...

Thank you so much for posting that today. You always seem to write exactly what I need to hear.

p.s. Please tell Sabrina that I think she has real talent and should consider becoming a professional photographer someday! :)

runningmom said...

You don't know me..but I have ached for you and learned a lot from you after hearing of your post through a friend.

I just wanted to let you know that your post hit home today. I came to the computer after feeling bad to over-reacting to my son's behavior tonight. I feel lack of patience is one of my biggest faults and an area I've been thinking a lot about lately.

Earlier in the day I taught a visiting teaching lesson on knowing we are daughters of God and understanding His love for us.

You are right. Love is the most powerful thing in the world. There is no fear nor anger in love. Even (and perhaps especially) when dealing with our children's behavior.

Thanks for your loving insight.

Flip flop Queen! said...

I just learned of your post. I just read the post titled sweet dreams. How dear I hold what you said to my heart. My 2 yr. old daughter drown 2 weeks ago in our pool. We had every safety percaution up but, she still some how got in. She has come to me in a dream. She was the same age but, we talked as if she was an adult. I don't remember what we said but I do know it was special. She has been with us ever since the accident. I know families are forever. We will get to live with her again and raise her. I know what your family is going through. You will be in our prayers. I know our daughter Kamber and yours are so happy and what a blessing it is to have them be a part of our families. Much love Jen

MaryClaire said...

thanks. i really needed that today. since camille's passing and lately with some things my brother and sister-in-law are going through with her pregnancy, i've been so much better. i've been able to keep that perspective like you talked about. but today for some reason i was tired, and i wasn't patient like i should have been. i'm glad tomorrow is a new day.

Brent, Bethany, and Brooke said...

Hello,

I have been a silent (non-commenting) reader of your blog for the past few weeks. I am a good friend of Marlo Walburger, who lost her 19 month old little girl in Vegas a few weeks ago and saw that someone posted your blog on her blog as a reference for her. I am captivated by your posts and words, and can't help but want to read what you'll write each day. I hope you don't mind that. Even though I've never been through anything like you have been through in the last few months, I still find so much strength and comfort in what you say and applying it to my own life, so thank you very much for having the kind of blog that you have. You are touching many many people.

-Bethany

christieadelle said...

I think about you and your family everyday. More then once, quite often really. I mostly think of the beautiful picture of your hand with your mother and Camille. I sobbed the first time I saw that picture. It is the little fingers of Camille's that gets to me the most. I think about that picture every time I look at my three year old's hands. I think about how that could have just as easily have by my hands in that picture, with my mother and my child. The fact that there are no faces in that picture makes it easy for me to think that this could happen to any one of us. It reminds me of how precious life is. How precious each of our children are and how important it is for me to be patient with them. Being patient overcomes frustration and anger. Your posts constantly remind me of how blessed I am to be a daughter of our Heavenly Father, of what the Lord expects from me as a mother and the best way to mother my children. I know I am not alone in feeling this way. I have read the posts of others and how they have been touched the same way I have. Thank you for sharing so much with us.

renae said...

so glad for this post today! i have been paralyzed by fear today, and it was ruining things for me, and for my kids. i love that both darren and stephen said that-- there is no fear in love. i decided to let go of the fear (which often manifests itself in other ways, ya know? anger probably being the most convenient way for me...) and decided to love and enjoy my day instead. life is much better that way, but it does have to be a conscious decision. thanks for putting my emotions of the day into words! you're fabulous.

Rebecca said...

Lovely post. I will keep it in mind and deliver more patience onto my little blessing. Thank you.

Megan Dougherty said...

Thank you for your blog today. Maddy my 2 year old has been on a screaming , crying frenzy all day (we got in late from a trip last night and we are potty training). Jay and I are beyond exhausted. Reading your blog today has made me excited to try again with Maddy tomorrow instead of dreading another crazy day. PS. GO SABRINA!! YOUR PICTURES ARE GREAT!!!

Just me! said...

Thanks so much!!! And thanks for 'christieadelle'....so well said.

Six-Pack Momma said...

Thank you. And tell Sabrina 'thank you,' too. That picture of you holding and kissing Lauren, along with your words was just what I needed after my long, frustrating day. May tommorrow be filled with more love and patience in my home.....

Ashley K. said...

Yup.... I needed to hear this today too. Thank you for your perfect words...

Shaundee said...

I am sorry that I think we are now "best friends" or something and that I need to leave a comment on all of your posts...but I can't help myself. So basically from this post I feel like you were a fly on my wall this evening as I was trying to get my highly strong willed 3 year old daughter to go to bed. Lets just say that I let my frustration take over. Please promise me that I can start fresh tomorrow. I think the thing that sticks out most in my mind is that every time I get frustrated with her, I am shaping the person that she will become. I want her to have patience and look to me as an example of that. Thank you for your timing on this post. I know how special my children are...and I will be better! Tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it!

Kenyon said...

I needed this today, thank you.

Chelsea said...

I am glad you wrote about this. Often I have felt bad that we all have said.."because of your loss I am better with my own kids" almost like all of the comments may have been a reminder to you that you have lost a child. It is so big of you to allow others to truly learn and think about what is most important in this life from your experience and loss. ps I have a Lauren too:)

Anonymous said...

Thank you

Anonymous said...

All you young sweet moms out there - be patience with yourselves also. Motherhood is wonderful, but we all lose it time to time. Go easy on yourselves and know you are trying. One piece of advice I can give comes from a great country song (I can't remember the artist who sings it) "Let Them Be Little". My children are grown now, and I'd give anything for one more night of "mom, can you read me another story" - oh boy would I run right in and read a million stories. Just remember time goes by so fast and little ones are not in a hurry - they just love life and have no time constraints. Let them be little and enjoy them.

Stephanie said...

Thank you Anonymous with the grown children. That is what I needed to hear tonight. I am so looking forward to the day I can be with Camille again. But I need to remember to appreciate my other little girls while they are little, for being little.

I do not want to emotionally skip over this part of THEIR lives, even though I do want to skip over this part of mine.

Thank you for your wisdom born of experience.
Stephanie Waite

Marylin and Jimmy said...

Beautiful! Than you for your ever inspired words.

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful for your post today. I came across your blog through my sisters friend and have been a silent reader since, although I wrote a post about your blog on how inspiring your thoughts have been and encouraged people to read your blog. There are many days when I go to bed feeling like a "mean" mom.
One night, after a not so good day with my children, I was singing them my usual list of goodnight songs, one being "I am a Child of God". When I started singing and came to the part "has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear" I started crying and realized that Heavenly Father sent these children to me and trusted me to take care of His children.
I still have some moments when I feel I am not being the most patient. I appreciate your wonderful words each day, and the rememberence of being loving and kind to my children. You have definately made me want to be a better mother and person. Thank you!
I don't know first hand what you are going through, but have seen my sister and her family go through losing their son from a rare gene diformaty. She has gone through much of what you are going through and had gained a lot of comfort from your words as well.
Again, thank you. You will be with your Camille again and you will have the priviledge of raising her.

Christie K said...

Thanks again for a beautiful post. I to lack serious patience. I will keep this post in mind and your little angle as I interact with my kids. Thanks again, your an inspiration.

Melony said...

Thanks for that post. I feel like I live in "mean mommy" mode way too often.. I have days where patience comes easier then others. Through people like yourself who have been so open and honest during their loss of a child, it has really helped me stop and realize that my girls are just children and I am not guaranteed tomorrow with them. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. Many people never think about what can happen to them until tragedy strikes. Through your stroy, I know that life can be so short.

Waggoner Family said...

Thank you for your inspiring thoughts. Close to the time that Camille passed away, I had a close friend that I have grown up with and is now in my ward lose her son. It had a profound impact on me and what kind of mother I was, I wanted to follow in my friend's footsteps and be the most patient mother, but my two and half year old always got the best of me! I am thankful for your example and sweet words that remind me that I love being a mom and teaching my son how to grow up to be a righteous young man while teaching myself the patience I need.

Brittany Osborn said...

I have been doing amazingly well ever since I found your blog in the patience area. My oldest even seemed like a new kid, more obedient, more willing to please, happier. And then there was yesterday. I'm so glad you posted this today to remind me how well I WAS doing and to keep working on getting better each day, not going backwards. Thanks!

Kara Jayne said...

Thank you...again.

Lisa and Mike said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Since I have founf your blog there has been more love and peace in my home. Camille and you along with your family have touch so many peoples lives for the better. You inspire me as a mother, wife, and daughter of God.

The Heizzys said...

Thank you SO much for this post! I need to hear this everyday! I get so wrapped up in things I forget that my little boy just wants a littl attention, and when he asks for it sometimes I get impatient. Or when he trys to do something and makes a mess, I get impatient. Thank you for helping me remember that they are only a small moment in our lives and someday our kids will be grown and gone but we will have learned that patience is what helped us to get through. May the Lord Bless and Keep your little family close.

LaRae said...

Stephanie - As I have been inspired by all you have shared in your blog, I am trying to be a more patient mom & trying to keep the "mean mom" at bay as much as possible. I can relate to our words that your kids were some of the few who could bring you to anger in the past, because this is so true for me. I always claimed to be a patient person until I had kids then I found out I had a lot to work on. The next time tempers flare and sisters fight in this house, I will be reminding those involved that we need LOVE in our home so that we can feel of our Heavenly Father's Spirit more abundantly. Thanks again for continuing to inspire me. Love you

TLC said...

Patience is so not my virtue either...but I have been trying SO MUCH HARDER to be patient w/ my girls. Some days it's a challenge, but one I am willing to take on!

i also make certain every day to tell my girls how much mommy loves them and how special they are to me! i know (hope) they already know that...but i want to reinforce it.

thanks for another great post!

Anamarie said...

I love you, I don't know you from Adam or Eve, but none the less, I feel connected to you as sisters in Zion. You have such great perspective, and all of us who comment on your blog, have learned greatly from your experiences.

Thank you from the depths of my soul.

Jennie said...

Thank you so much for this post. I used to think patience was one of my virtues. Then I had kids.... I realized I'm not nearly as patient as I thought I was and not even close to being as patient as I should. Thank you for reminding me to see my children through Heavenly Father's eyes. I think of these lessons that you and Camille are teaching and I ccan truly say that I am trying to become a better person, because of you both. Thank you.

Shanan said...

I think my favorite part about this post was the 'lauren gets mama' post! Love it!

FishinFamily said...

You and Camille have helped me be more patient. I have 3 year old twins and a 2 year old. Before I found your blog I felt like I was always so close to 'boiling point'. However things are different now. I am able to take a deep breath and thank my Father in Heaven that I have been given the opportunity to be their mother and that I get to hold them and kiss them and hear their gentle voices and sweet laughter. I am trying so hard to take a little more time to make sure they know how much I love them. I really feel like I've become better. I'm actually enjoying this mommy business. Thank you for your strength! You really are changing lives. Love you!

LadyBugs Momma said...

Thank you - a true reminder to me of how blessed I am and how appreciative I should be for my life, my family and my children. You are an inspiration to me, someone I look to daily for guidance.

julie said...

Thank you for this post. Just last night I realized what I was doing wrong with my children and prayed for Heavenly Father to give me more patience and understanding with them and to stop trying to control them, but to guide them instead. I woke up this morning with a profound feeling of patience and now I am reading your blog and feeling that Heavenly is using you to teach me once again this message and helping me see how important it is. Thank you for being an instrument in answering my prayer.

Marleen said...

In so many ways Camille has taught me patience and I hope I can continually remember these lessons and do my. I can fall so easily from this mind set of patience so I hope that Camille and all of her beauty will pop into my head when anger or frustration stirs within.

Jenny said...

I wish I could wrap my brain around what you just said and never forget it. Thank you for the way you said that! It really touched me and I hope I will remember that always.

Rachel said...

I always knew I would have kids, but I wasn't prepared for the passion of motherhood that would sweep me off my feet. I never expected to so deeply love my kids and my role as a mother. In the abstract, it's the most amazing, glorious thing. It's harder in the concrete. Once we were in the car, and I was listening to a folk song I love that truly describes my worshipful feelings for my children- "And the wind will whisper your name to me, little birds will sing along in time. All the leaves will bow down when you walk by, and morning bells will chime." I started tearing up, thinking of the depth of my love for them. Just them an argument erupted from the back sea, and, irritated at having my reverie interrupted, I snapped at them. I don't remember exactly what I said, but it struck me later the irony of my feeling at the moment, "Will you just be quiet so I can go back to thinking about how much I love you?" Thanks to you I am able more often to stop, look into their faces, and see the strong sweet spirits inside.
Rachel Merrill

rmb said...

I found your blog through a friend's comment on her blog. I,too, am LDS. I have 3 kids, the youngest a boy born exactly 2 weeks before your sweet baby. I read parts of your blog before heading out for a doctor's appt. and today I didn't get fustrated when he whined. Instead I watched his little hands hug his bag of goldfish. He is napping now and I read more of what you wrote and sobbed. We can all learn to be a little more patient and hug our babies a little tighter. Thank you for sharing your story and I pray that you will be blessed with all that you need.

Carrie said...

It is so easy to forget sometimes that a 2 year old is just that-- a tiny spirit whose memory has been erased and has only had a mere TWO years of training on earth to relearn some of those things. I on the other hand, am 26 and still am ashamed to think of how embarrassing my own behavior can be at times when I should know better. And yet I find myself so frustrated with my 2-year old and demanding improved behavior of her... I was appreciative of the words in your post. I really am trying to hold my baby girl tighter and enjoy these fleeting years when she is small and learning. I hope I too can learn to be more patient with her.

s g said...

I was really needing this after I wanted to strangle my son last night...he decided to yell and spit at his swimming teacher for his first lesson last night. I was mortified!!! I know kids will be kids, but last night kind of blew me away, as we have never had quite an experience like that. I am hoping it was the first and last.

Thank you for your words...so many of us need to hear them! Patience is something I pray for every day.

Maine Mom said...

Thank you for this post. I need to be more patient and loving, especially if I expect that from my children. I want the spirit to be in our home and it will be here as we love each other. It is not always easy to show that love. I am discovering as I get older that I'm not as patient and kind as I once thought I was, and I'm quick to get angry, annoyed, and bitter. I need reminders like this post to do better, to be a better mom.

Calvin Family said...

Your words are so clear and pure. Thank you for your post. It's one I am sure I will reread often and remind myself of daily.

Jennifer said...

My children are grown too, but there are a couple things that helped me be the Mom I wanted to be (though as someone commented, we all have bad days and shouldn't beat ourselves up for it, just strive to do better the next day! Also, don't be afraid to admit our mistakes and apologize to our children when we mess up. That sets a great example for them! Children are extremely forgiving.)

One thing I heard as a young Mom that made a big impression on me, is that they really weren't just my children, but children of God on loan to me.

Another thing that helped me was to ponder what kind of memories I wanted my children to have of me when they were grown. I didn't want them to remember a Mom that was always stressed out and impatient, and obsessed with having a clean house! I wanted them to remember fun and laughter, and most of all I wanted them to feel loved and cherished.

I now have a granddaughter, and I cherish every moment I have with her. When she's here, I forget about housework and responsibility, and I just play. I know Mom's simply don't have that luxury, but I was talking to a mother of 5 young children at church, and I told her maybe once in awhile, she should pretend she's Grandma for a few hours, turn her back on the housework, and just play and have fun with her kids! I think it's really important to set aside time to just play, laugh, and have fun with your children.

One thing this empty nester definitely knows......housework keeps, but children don't stay little long!

Jennifer said...

P.S.

Another thing I did as a young Mom was to post this poem in a prominent place to remind myself and my guests where my priorities were! I hope it's as helpful to all of you as it was to me:

COME IN

Come in. But don't expect to find all the dishes done; all floors ashine.

Observe the crumpled rug, the toys galore, the smudgy fingerprinted door.

The little ones we shelter here don't thrive on spotless atmosphere.

They're more inclined to disarray and carefree, even messy play.

Their needs are great, their patience small. All day I'm at their beck and call.

It's "Mommie come" "Mommie see!" Wiggly worms and red-scraped knee.

Painted pictures, blocks piled high, my floors unshined, the days go by.

Some future day they'll flee this nest, and I, at last, will have a rest.

And which really matters more? A happy child or a polished floor?

Author Unknown

(This poem was published in Ann Landers many years ago, and was signed "Contented in Saginaw")

Heidi said...

I love it. That gentleness, respect and patience you describe sounds exactly like what I feel toward my son.

Montel said...

I have been reading your posts for months now. They came highly recommended from a friend of mine from Twin Falls, Idaho. I am a dad who has two girls, one who turns 2 in one month and one who is just 2 and 1/2. I work in an office in my home and get to spend quality time with my girls daily when my wife is at work. Today, I almost lost it. I was in my office on an important call for 20 minutes, when I came out, the girls had covered themselves with Desitin Cream, the leather couch, and chairs and the carpet. I was furious. . . but then I remembered the advice you have been giving daily, they are but children. choice, loving spirits, entrusted to us for just a short time. .How could I get mad at them then. I hugged them and quickly took their pictures and gave them baths and cleaned up the mess and chalked that one up to experience.

Thank you for sharing everyday. Your blog has been a huge blessing to my family. Montel Seattle, WA

Em said...

I have been reading your blog for some time now. I have been one of those silent visitors. I just want you to know how much I enjoy reading your blog. It always makes me refocus on things I need to work on. Patience is something I have struggled with my whole life. I have very little of it and when I am tired or stretched too thin I tend to have no patience. I am a mother of a beautiful 2 yr old and well she has all the attitude that could possibly fit into her little frame. Part is just who she is and another is well she is 2. Growing up my mother yelled a lot, and unfortunately it appears to have been ingrained in me. It has gotten better but it just so happens that when my patience is lacking my yelling is hard to control. I have tried so hard to make this horrible habit end with my generation because well it didn't do me much good growing up, plus I want my children to have a better relationship with me than I had with my own mother. I just wanted to let you know that I love reading your blog and the daily reminders I get of what constantly needs to be worked on. Even if they last for an hour or two because old habits die hard. Thanks God bless, Emily

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful inspiration. I know how I feel after losing my temper with my sweet little kids. I always feel so much better when I have patience and love in my home. You are such a strong and wonderful example. May Heavenly Father continue to bless you and your sweet family.

Becky said...

Wow, what a great lesson! Thank you so much.

munyer jerk chicken said...

you've hit on something here... something big, very big. i wrote a paper at BYU about how our purpose in life is to become like our Savior. He experienced EVERY pain, every emotion, every thing there is to feel... and this is why He is able to succor us so well. how are we, then, to do this if there is so much in life that we will never experience? in other words, how am i to bear another's burdens and comfort those who need comfort (mosiah 18) if i can never really know what they are going through the same way that our Savior KNOWS? in my paper, i argued that literature is a way for us to "vicariously" experience and understand things that we may never experience for ourselves (i specifically remember gaining a better understanding of homelessness after reading a poem in a spanish class). anyway, this all seems so random, but what i'm getting at is that here, in your blog, i read and i understand... a little bit more. yes, many of us are, in fact, learning vicariously through your writing, and in so doing, we are taking little steps towards becoming more like our Savior. so thank you.

Mimi's Toes said...

You are amazing. This is such a great lesson you shared and helped so many parents out there. I think about you so often and I do find myself giving extra hugs to my grand-kids after reading your horrible tragedy.

katy b said...

thank you

artybill said...

Stephanie, Jonathan -

A little voice told me to look you up and I found your blog.

Janet and I want you to know how much we feel for you and how we miss you down here in Long Beach.

We know how dearly you love your little ones and want you to know you always have our friendship.

Your blog is terrific and Sabrina has a GREAT eye for photography!