As parents of young children (or even older children), we are often our own worst enemies. I don't know about you, but when I begin my day, I have a do-to list in my head and expectations as to how the day will go and what I will accomplish. I often find myself judging how the day went on the basis on how closely the day ended up matching my plans for it. It's not surprising that we live this way. Our society very often values product over process. We want to know the final outcome, the bottom line, the end result. This type of thinking has even worked it's way into the educational system with that pernicious outcome based education theory.
But, children are not things and therefore not products to roll out assembly-line fashion. They are people... with their own quirks, desires, moods, and tendencies. Their needs rarely match the agendas running through their parents' heads. It is easy to forget this and I find I am at my most frustrated when a small child is not buying into what I need to get done. I forget that as a parent, it is my job, first and foremost, to care for my child and meet their needs. (Notice I said their needs. This is not to imply that we are allow our children to become petty tyrants, demanding their parents meet their every whim.) Sometimes I need to remember that it is more important to just sit and hold a cranky 2 year old. Or stop and play a game with an aimless 5 year old. Or just sit and listen (without doing something else as the same time) to an 8 year old who needs to relate the plot of the book he's reading. I accomplish far more by doing these small things than anything on my to do list. The trick is to be able to readjust my own expectations at that moment; to remember the importance of the small things while I'm in the process of doing them. To be able to do this is to ward off frustration and dissatisfaction.
The results of our parenting may be a long time in coming... years and years in fact. And once at that point, it is too late to go back and appreciate the process of parenting and watching your child grow and develop. It's good to remember that spending the morning holding the 2 year old who won't be put down is the most important thing that can be done and that there will come a day when a parent would give just about anything to go back in time and hold that cranky little person again.