She had been trying to tell me a story for a while.
My “to do” list was lengthy and the rest of my kids needy. It was 4:30 in the afternoon – this, of course, speaks volumes of my mental state.
I was doing what I like to call a slap-bang job of listening. Half in, half out, picking up keywords enough to add an appropriate “uh-huh” or “Really?” here and there.
As she talked and I flitted around the kitchen engaging in the minutiae of daily life, I caught her eye.
In an instant, I could read the hurt in her gaze. I could see how much she wanted me to just stop and listen.
And she didn’t have to utter a word because I’m no stranger to feeling unheard.
Admittedly, I’m sure her eyes have said the same in the past but I’m ashamed to admit – I’m not sure I would have noticed. In those moments of task completion, I just want to get it all done and on-schedule because by 4 p.m., I’m tired and I need everyone in bed by eight o’clock so I can exhale a bit before it starts again so early the next morning.
But this time was different.
I stopped flitting around the kitchen and quit bouncing to the other room between breaths to help Samuel with his homework and just sat down and heard her heart.
There’s a difference between listening and hearing, you know.
Sadly, I realized it had been a while since I’ve heard her.
Later that night while we were sitting on the floor of her bedroom, she confirmed what I thought I saw in her eyes.
“Mom, I know you’re so busy. Thanks for stopping to listen to me this afternoon,” she said.
She’s right – I am busy. But who isn’t? The fact that she thanked me for doing something I should be doing every day filled me with holy conviction.
I once saw an acronym for “busy” – Being Under Satan’s Yoke. Being busy keeps us distracted and if we’re distracted then we aren’t focused on what’s real and true.
We can be so busy, busy with even the good stuff, that we don’t see the best stuff. The stuff upon which we build a life.
Sure, our children love toys and video games and books and really all kinds of “things.”
But it was that snowy afternoon just a few weeks ago that taught me it wasn’t the “things” my children want the most – it’s just one thing.
Because when we do distracted, slap-bang listening, our hearts not in it and they know. They are so perceptive, those kids of ours.
I once heard a quote that said “Listen to the little things your kids tell you now so they will tell you the big things later.”
I want to be the kind of mother who listens and hears the little things and the big. I want my children to know they can come to me and I will help them with anything – anything. Always.
But if I don’t listen to the little stuff now, the stuff that seems so trivial and sometimes just absurd and silly, I may not ever know what those anythings are later down the road.
It’s not about the stuff. Or the activities. Or the vacations or special lessons.
It’s about stopping long enough to hear.
I suspect this is really want the most anyway.
Well said. Since my life, ‘started falling into place’ (Trying to use this rather than what my heart feels as “imploded”.) and I became a single parent of two, I often feel myself going through the motions. I’m overly caught up in day to day tasks- just so not to feel greatly overwhelmed by it all. It’s a great reminder that at the end of the day whether or not the dishwasher is filled is small in comparison to whether or not my children’s hearts are. Be Blessed.
Terri, yes. I don’t have experience with single parenting but I know the emotional fall-out from divorce and it’s hard. You are wise in knowing that sometimes, the dishes need to be left in the sink and the laundry unfolded.
It will get better. Promise.
It’s funny you bring this up. I know I am guilty of this myself, but last night I took special time out to play with my 5 year old son. It’s a simple game I made up – he is on one side of the kitchen floor and I am on the other side with a small box in the middle. We took turns trying to bounce a small ball in the box. Half way through the game he exclaimed, “This is the bestest day ever!”. While that could have made me feel good, it made me feel bad as that I took it as that I haven’t just sat down and played with him on his level in a while.
Anyway, great information as always… I needed that Ma’am…
The simplest games are the best, aren’t they? My husband and I always laugh at this – they get new toys for Christmas and birthdays and they play with them for a little while but then always go back to the boxes, the legos, Lincoln Logs – the classics.
Yes, it’s that sweet time that just charges their hearts. How precious.
Well isn’t that just like God to hit me over the head! I can so relate with what you are talking about. Thank you for sharing and giving me a reality check about how important it is to stop are really listen even when I am tired, busy, etc.
You have a wonderful ministry through you blog! Thanks for your posts!
Thank you, Christine. If it makes you feel any better, God hits me over the head every day. In a very good way, of course. :)