Rodgers

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - NEWS -

one thing I held onto dur­ing those months I was preg­nant. The one thought that got me through sleep­less nights.

Be­cause, hon­estly, Matthew is a teenager with at­ti­tude.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Matthew is happy and funny and he has a wit that’s quicker than light­en­ing. But he’s also a teenager. And who knew that teenagers with that ex­tra chro­mo­some are not im­mune to teenage at­ti­tude? I cer­tainly didn’t.

He has ac­tu­ally prayed that his mom would be a bet­ter mom to him (we say prayers ev­ery night, so he said this RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.) He wanted a bet­ter mom be­cause ear­lier that night I told him that, thank God, he has the abil­ity to ac­tu­ally get his own “cold water” and that he needs to start do­ing this for him­self in­stead of ex­pect­ing for me to wait on him like a ser­vant. Un­for­tu­nately, he didn’t know what the word ser­vant meant so that kind of took the steam out of my stream-of-thought ar­gu­ment.

The other morn­ing I was help­ing him get his shoes on for school be­cause we were fight­ing the clock – ac­tu­ally he was sit­ting on the sofa watch­ing TV while I was strug­gling to get his foot in his shoe. I said, rather ex­as­per­at­edly, “Do you think you can help me out, just a bit?” Granted, I said that with just a hint of snark­i­ness in my de­liv­ery. To which he re­sponded with a heavy sigh that screamed an­noy­ance.

Re­ally? Re­ally? I’m try­ing to put a shoe on what es­sen­tially is a wet noo­dle be­cause he’s too wrapped up watch­ing a “Gold­bergs” re­run and he’s an­noyed at me? I was about to let loose with one of my all-time best mom rants, de­signed to in­still guilt, fear and re­morse, all at the same time, at its in­tended tar­get when I stopped my­self. Be­cause of Fa­ther Gus.

In­stead of re­tal­i­at­ing with my own “RE­ALLY” and the (jus­ti­fied) ver­bal on­slaught af­ter that, the words of Fa­ther Gus pounded into my head. “Pa­tience. We all need to be more pa­tient.”

The crux of Sun­day’s homily from Fa­ther Gus (Puleo) was sim­ple, yet more im­por­tant to­day than it has ever been.

Pa­tience. A small word that can throw a mighty punch when de­liv­ered cor­rectly.

As I shoved the shoe onto Matthew’s foot, and heard “pa­tience” re­ver­ber­at­ing in my head, I was re­minded that Matthew does in­deed re­spond more to a pos­i­tive ap­proach rather than in­tim­i­da­tion. Both my boys are like that. Kait­lyn — I can send a mes­sage to her with just a sim­ple glare. I like that — it re­quires much less ef­fort than pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment. As my mother al­ways said, each kid is dif­fer­ent and you have to fig­ure out how to reach them and get that mes­sage de­liv­ered.

Any­way, ig­nor­ing Matthew’s teenage at­ti­tude (which is just as in­fu­ri­at­ing from him as it was from his chro­mo­so­ma­l­ly­cor­rect brother) I put on my best Mary Pop­pins at­ti­tude and got his shoe on. He re­sponded just as I had hoped — by for­get­ting that lit­tle snarky ex­change ever hap­pened, and we were out the door — skip­ping and singing – OK, that’s an ex­ag­ger­a­tion, but we were smil­ing and as happy as an an­noyed mom and at­ti­tude-y teenager can be at 6:45 a.m.

As I walked back into the house, I thought about that lit­tle word — pa­tience. I had de­cided a few months ago that I wanted to change how I ap­proached life — I could feel the pull of neg­a­tiv­ity and re­sent­ment, and I didn’t want to fall into that pat­tern of be­ing, well, neg­a­tive. So I de­cided that I was go­ing to change things up.

When I’m driv­ing, I try to be aware of the other driver — mean­ing I’m most cer­tainly go­ing to let you turn in front of me, merge in front of me or pass me on the in­side. And if you’re rid­ing my bumper be­cause you don’t think I’m go­ing fast enough, I will gladly pull over (if it’s safe) and let you go ahead of me. No, I’m not record­ing your li­cense plate or call­ing the cops. I sim­ply want you off my back. I’m not fight­ing that fight or any of those road-rage dances any­more be­cause frankly it was too ex­haust­ing. And too neg­a­tive. So, I try to have pa­tience when I’m be­hind the wheel. There are times when I still let neg­a­tiv­ity creep in, es­pe­cially when a driver makes a care­less or stupid move, but for the most part, I’m Gandhi be­hind the wheel.

But it goes be­yond the road. I’m try­ing to bring pa­tience into all as­pects of my life. If my kids are get­ting on my nerves (trust me, this is a daily strug­gle) I try to chan­nel Job so that I don’t let them see I’d rather just be watch­ing The Real House­wives of Any­place rather than en­gage in any type of dis­cus­sion.

When I’m stand­ing in line at a gro­cery store for an eter­nity — be­cause I picked the wrong stupid line again — I try to oc­cupy my thoughts with any­thing other than the cus­tomer in front of me who de­cides check­out time is the best time to 1) talk on the phone 2) sort and sep­a­rate coupons 3) count out ex­act change and 4) wait for a bag­ger to come along and put those 100 items just pur­chased in bags.

Breathe — in­hale, ex­hale and look at those tabloid head­lines. That will pass the time quickly…

Don’t get me wrong, this new at­ti­tude doesn’t mean I’m just go­ing to let peo­ple take ad­van­tage of me. My

mom also said “If you make a door­mat of your­self peo­ple will walk all over you.” She was the grand ex­am­ple of liv­ing life right. She gave of her­self with pa­tience, in­tegrity and sin­cer­ity, but was no one’s fool. So, if I fig­ured, if I try to con­duct my­self in the way she did, not only will I be bet­ter off, so will ev­ery­one around me.

I’m not kid­ding my­self, though. There’s no way I can live up to my mom’s char­ac­ter. And that’s where Fa­ther Gus’ fi­nal re­minder comes into play. I need to be pa­tient with my­self. To ac­cept that I’ll fall short a bunch of times, and that I’ll not mea­sure up to most ex­pec­ta­tions. But that shouldn’t stop me from try­ing — from try­ing to be a good, hon­est per­son try­ing to live life the right way.

Plus, since it’s on the top of Matthew’s prayer list that — if I’m not care­ful (and nice) he’s go­ing to ask God for a re­place­ment mom. And, when it comes right down to it, he re­ally is worth all those glasses of cold water I fetch (his word, and I’m dead se­ri­ous) for him. I just need to work at ex­pand­ing his vo­cab­u­lary. Ch­eryl Ke­hoe Rodgers is a con­tent ed­i­tor at The Times Her­ald. Email her at [email protected]­ald. com

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

If a kid can get him­self to an open shot, like Matthew Rodgers, right, has done here, he cer­tainly is ca­pa­ble of “fetch­ing his own cold water.”

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