Tag Archives: parent

Are you listening, Mom?

“Are you listening, Mom?”

The Taz utters these words at least once during our car ride home after work and school, interrupting himself as he’s relaying a story about the latest scene in his video game or some other area of interest to him. And, I’m embarrassed to say, the reason he says this is because many times when I’m nodding and keeping silent while he’s speaking, my mind is elsewhere.

Do I have all the ingredients needed for that dish I’m cooking for dinner tonight? Or am I going to have to stop at the store before we reach home? I can’t forget to write down that idea my boss was talking to me about at work today so I can get started on it tomorrow. Crud, I think I left my favorite travel mug on my desk. Can I go one more day without doing laundry, or am I totally out of underwear? Ugh, judging by that stain on the Taz’s pants, laundry it is. Alright dude, are you going to merge in front of me, or is your blinker on for fun?

“Are you listening, Mom?”

No. I wasn’t.

I’ve been trying something new with the kids, and it involves actually opening my ears and shutting off my brain when my kids are speaking to me. Put the iPhone down while she’s speaking. Put the mental grocery list on hiatus when he wants to tell me something. Use words that prove I’m totally active in this conversation and care about what either of them have to say. I know, I know. HUGE concept, right? But when all the kid wants to talk about is video games or something he’s seen on YouTube, it’s really hard to stay focused when I have a million things on my plate and rolling around in my brain. It’s also obvious I need to broaden the kids’ horizons, but that’s a whole other issue. The main point is, these are HIS interests. It’s what HE is passionate about. And by telling me about them, he’s inviting me into his world to share what he loves the most.

The least I could do is listen, right?

The other night I knocked on his door and asked if I could come in. Usually my reason for coming in the room would be to ask him to set the table or complain about how messy his room had gotten. But instead, I sat on his bed beside him and asked him about the game. I stayed there for a good half hour as he described the different levels of the game, some tricks he had learned, and why he had to do certain things to increase his score.

“This is probably really boring to you, huh?” he said. And I shook my head. Actually, it totally helped me to understand how he could get so sucked into it, and why, sometimes, it was hard for him to turn the game off. I also realized that part of the reason I tuned him out when he’d go on and on about video games was because I had no visual about what he was talking about. I didn’t really understand what he was saying. And this made it easy to go over my grocery list while he was speaking.

It’s also incredibly rude.

The tendency for most people is to check out after work. In fact, after a day of straining the brain to get everything done, it’s almost vital to check out for a bit. But it’s also vital for our kids to be heard. If you’re unable to in the moment, tell them so. Don’t shine them on by letting them speak while you hibernate inside your brain with a glazed look in your eyes. Instead, tell them you’d love to listen but need a few moments to yourself. Then take a few moments. But when you’re done, check back in with them and truly listen to all they have to say. Do they have interests that are separate from your own? Meet them halfway. This may be as dull as looking over their shoulder as they seek out LOLcatz online, or just sitting next to them while they kill zombies on their TV screen. But believe me, your interest in their world will go a long way. And perhaps it might even be encouraging for them to want to know more about your interests too.

….

Well, maybe not. Sudden repressed memories of being forced into antiquing for hours with my parents – super exciting for a 10 year old…. But it doesn’t hurt. And I think they’ll end up really appreciating your efforts in getting to know them better, looking for ways to hang out doing the things THEY like to do, and by truly listening.

“Are you listening, Mom?”

Yes. Yes, I am.

Automatic Pilot

I got up at 6 am this morning, just like usual. I started the coffee and cleared out the dishrack while it brewed. I got out my small pan and threw in a scrambled egg to make my goat cheese and avocado omelet. Then I sat with the newspaper and got caught up on the news. The kids’ alarm went off at 7 am, and we started the hustle and bustle of getting ready in 45 minutes. Quick shower, hair and make-up, the long process of figuring out what to wear – all while the kids got themselves dressed, made their breakfasts, and packed their lunches. A couple of the usual reminders that hair and teeth needed to be brushed and shoes needed to be put on, and we were out the door. We started down the road while I mused once again if I had remembered to turn off the coffeepot. I always did without thinking, a habitual flick of the switch when I set my coffee cup with its traditional third of a cup left unsipped. I thought about turning around again since we were on time, but decided against it, placing faith in my automatic pilot to have done it for me.

We merged into traffic on the 12, getting behind the same car that we have followed many times before. They must be on the same schedule as us. I dropped my son off first, signing all of his homework at the very last minute, as usual. Then I dropped my daughter off. We listened to the same radio morning show we always listen to and piped in to answer the questions to their latest contest in the privacy of our own car. And then, before I knew what was happening, I was at work.

Yesterday I was driving home from work to go pick the kids up from my parents’ house. A Pink song came on the radio and I hummed along. It made me think of her amazing performance at the Grammys. I thought about the feedback she must have heard after the show. She must have had friends and fans alike telling her how awesome it was, probably still to this day. And what about her family? Pink is notorious for her outbursts and wild nature. I remembered a story once of a Thanksgiving she attended at her in-laws house. She and her husband got into a full on fight at the dinner table and starting throwing food all around the dining room. Her in-laws must have been amazed that she was capable of something so raw and beautiful.

And that’s when I realized that the ground was moving below me, and my stomach actually jumped. I had been so engrossed in daydreaming that I had actually exited the car and was floating in oblivion while my body kept driving the car to my parents’ house.

The routine is never changing, always the same. A deviation in it would throw our whole schedule off. But because it is so routine, I find that I can do it half asleep and never remember what is going on in between Point A and Point D. It can be a little jarring when I get so caught up in doing the same thing every day that I am doing it without thinking. I can’t tell you how many times I have driven somewhere and, once at my destination, I literally can’t remember what happened during the drive. I don’t even remember driving!

Are you the same? Is your schedule so intact that you can do it without thinking? Between kids activities, the school and work routine, and all else that takes up your time as a busy mom, do you find yourself most days on Automatic Pilot?