Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mommy Can You Hear Me?

Raising children.....

Before you read this blog post, understand that I am not saying that my way was the best way or that my way was the only way...I'm just going to share with you what worked for me. Was I the perfect mom....absolutely not..but somehow in spite of my shortcomings, I managed to raise three amazing children.

There are a million things that go into the raising of kids, and over time I'll talk about many of them, but today is just about listening to our children. I don't know about you, but when I have something to say, I want to be heard. I want people's undivided attention. I might be happy, sad, angry, lonely, overjoyed, overwhelmed, depressed, elated, sick or tired or any number of things and if I want to share my thoughts with you, I want and need you to listen to me.

I grew up in a house full of girls and it wasn't always easy to be heard. I learned to talk very loud, to interrupt and to talk "over" people just to make conversation. Even as an adult I find myself doing that occasionally. Old habits die hard. I'll catch myself and return to being the good listener I long to be.

If I wait my turn and then try to join the conversation and I am continually brushed off, interrupted or ignored...after a while I think screw you...I didn't really want to talk to you anyway!

Have you ever felt like that?

Children are no different. They have the same long list of emotions that we have and when they have something they want to share...they want to be heard.

It seems parents are always "comparing notes" on child rearing. I can remember when my kids were in high school, most parents saying the same thing, "My kid won't talk to me." Well, remember that person a couple of paragraphs ago...the one that brushed me off or ignored me when I wanted to share my thoughts with them? How long do you think I will keep trying to communicate with that person before I finally say to myself, "Forget it! You have no interest in me or in what I have to say!"....and then rarely speak to the person again? I think the same thing applies here.

Life is so full of excitement and discovery for young children. They always seem to have something to tell us. In fact, it seems that some of them never shut up. Did you have one of those? It can be very trying for a parent. We're trying to cook dinner, answer the phone, someone is knocking on the door, we need to check our e-mail, pay the bills, get to work, do the dishes, change the laundry, feed the dogs and on and on and on...and there is that child that always seems to need to tell you something.

How many times have we said, "Not right now" or "Can you tell me later" or "Mommy is very busy"? How long do we think that little one will keep trying before they finally decide that we really aren't interested in what they have to say? Then little by little they stop sharing their joys, their fears, their accomplishments, their sadness with us....and then they become teenagers.

Suddenly more than ever we want and need to know what they are doing, how they are doing, what they are thinking, where they are going, who they are going with....and they won't give us the time of day. Sometimes that happens just because they ARE teenagers and that is what teenagers do....but I don't think that is always the case. I think it often comes from years of not being heard.

From the time my kids started communicating...I listened. It really didn't matter what I was doing, there was nothing more important than what they had to say. I wouldn't hesitate to stop whatever I was doing whenever a little voice said, "Mommy" or "Hey Mom". I was excited or concerned or interested in everything they had to say no matter how busy I was.

As my children grew, the things they shared with me of course changed. They shared a lot. I knew a lot. Sometimes I knew more than I really wanted to know. Of course, there were still things they kept to themselves, but they knew that they could come to me with anything and I would listen. I may not have always agreed, but I would listen. It didn't matter if it was four in the afternoon, or four in the morning....I listened. I have shared many, many laughs and many, many tears with each of my kids over the years.

Today my kids are 25, 28 and 34. I talk to Tresa every single day and have since she went away to college. Michael, Matt and I talk, e-mail or text every couple of days. My kids know that they can still call me any time of any day, and they do because...they know mommy will always hear them.


Lanyardlady said...

We never stop needing our mommies to listen. Thank you for this wonderful post that reminds us how special each day with our children is.

Catherine said...

Job well done! Raising loving, responsible children is a wonderful accomplishment.

Jonara Blu Maui said...

Sounds like you did a great job w/ your kids! I agree that listening is so important. I always call to mind a caption in a book I least I think it was in this book.."how to talk so kids will listen and how to listen so kids will talk' or something to that effect. But it showed a dad in a chair kicking back watching tv and telling his kid 'not now' when the child wanted to talk to him. Not like his show was THAT important...esp compared to his child. The child sulked away. That image popped up into my mind whenever I found myself doing that and helped me to turn of the tv or put aside what I was least for a minute or two to listen.

I remember when my son hit that ramble on and on stage..all he wanted to talk about was his video games. I tried to listen because that was his world..that was what was important to him. Sometimes I could only take so much "..and then I made Mario jump over the mushroom and up onto the cloud and I had to hit the fire button really fast before he jumped up again...and on and on and on" ugh! AT times I had to use my code word for no more talking...our code word was "jello"..cuz momma needed to gel for a bit so she could recoop and handle another round! That helped him to not get his feelings hurt too by using a code word instead of frustratingly telling him to be quiet!

Mary said...

it's fun having chatty children. mine are all grown up but we talk every day about just about everything. like you, i often knew too much....we always had a houseful and i still keep up with most of my so called 'adopted' kids as well as my own!

Cecile/DreamCreateRepeat said...

I've got one super-duper communicator, one fairly talkative, and one who keeps all his cards close to his vest and has since he was little....

sometimes its just personality and not parenting...

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