Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Not in the zone

Lately I have been feeling very guilty for being a bad listener.

I know it's because I'm distracted by other, larger things - the economy and its effect on our personal pocketbooks, my recent push to find a paying job, health issues. That isn't an excuse, though. It's just wrong that one of my kids starts talking and I find myself nodding and saying "Yep, uh-huh, really!" and I have no idea what he's been saying two minutes later because I Just. Wasn't. Focused. On. Him.

I might have noted in the past that my mother, despite any differences we might have had then or might have now or in the future, is pretty much my ideal parenting role model. Wracked with guilt, I've been scouring my memories to see if I can find any times when I remember her paying less than full attention to whatever I was blathering on about as a kid. I can't remember a single one. I remember her looking me in the eye, paying attention to whatever I said, responding in kind, making me feel like what I said was important. Idealized, maybe, and I'm sure she'd agree that my memories are rose-colored. But it's about perception, right? And I perceived her as always having been listening.

Why can't I do this?

A few years ago my New Year's resolution was to try to be more "in the moment" with my kids. Apparently it didn't stick. I find myself very often completely out of the moment - and then, when the moment passes and E walks away frustrated because he's been trying to tell me about the funny quote on his daily calendar and I've shooed him away and shut him up, I feel horrible.

Well, E, if you're reading this (and I know you are), please know that I don't mean to shut you up and shoo you away. I want to hear everything you have to say. Because I know that if I listen to you now, when you're 10, then maybe you'll still want to tell me what's on your mind when you're 12 and 15 and 17 and the issues are more weighty.

I just have to try harder. I need a mantra. I will listen when my kids talk to me. I will listen when my kids talk to me. I will listen....

1 comment:

Erika said...

My friend Naomi tried to post this but for some reason it didn't show up, so I'm reprinting. She says:

Give yourself a break, Erika. Giving them your full attention is often not an option- especially if you're busy driving them, or feeding them, or otherwise doing stuff for them. And let them know when they've got your full attention. They'll value THAT moment- as they should.

Sometimes not being there 100% is a way of showing them that they need to choose what moments deserve your full attention (not all of them do!)

Last night, I had to ask Adina to tell me her story 3 times before I
could fully get it. I apologized for having missed parts the first
times around....But she was happy ultimately that we got to where we were going and that I needed some brains cells to pull that off even if it was a bit at her expense (how ironic is that?)

You are the mother you are- with qualities your mother didn't have-
some of them very good. Make little attempts to tweak, but don't make yourself crazy. And remember, a happy mommy is a better mommy.
-Naomi