30 Seconds for Hope: Do your children talk almost non-stop? Do your ears get tired? The prattle of children can feel like background noise that’s always there (and readily tuned out). Yet we know that kids express things they consider valuable, so how can we hear their heart? A friend gave me two keys to listening which helped me value my children’s words: stop and stoop. By listening to your children, really listening, you impart value to them—and cultivate friendships for life.
And now the full story:
Gem Number 3…
The whirring vacuum devoured lint as I guided it around an overstuffed sofa at my friend’s house. As difficult as it was to manage a bulky cleaning machine in this eighth month of pregnancy, it was much better than languishing at home while waiting for my due date. So I was more than glad to provide help for my busy mommy friend. While she helped her older children with school lessons, I finished the vacuuming and settled onto the sofa to read picture books to her littles.
School lessons done, my friend brewed tea and gave me a gift—the gift of a relaxed chat (quite a feat for a mother of four). Mug in hand, I listened as she related colorful stories of motherhood, and I watched mothering in action while she intermittently paused to listen to her children tell important tales, or sometimes a tattle. As I observed her patient interactions with them, I felt glad I’d paused my life to come listen and learn.
Earlier that month I’d visited the home of another mom friend, but for a different reason. I wanted to absorb essential info for my upcoming labor and delivery from this qualified Lamaze teacher. As a bonus while there, I got to see her interactions with her children, which meant I also absorbed essential info on how to manage a household of kids (and ways to show mercy while managing). I went home enriched in more ways than one.
Waiting for my first-born, I spent hours with these and other moms, offering my help and soaking up their friendship. But more importantly, I was observing them—just as I had for years. Both as a single gal and now as a vastly pregnant mama-to-be, I observed this group of mom friends who surrounded me. I don’t know if they knew how much I was picking up simply by being with them, but these ladies were mentors for motherhood.
On one of those days while I watched and learned, I heard one of them drop a line I will never forget.
“Whenever my children want to tell me something, I try to stop what I’m doing and stoop down, looking them in the eye while I listen. Really listen.”
Wow, just a few words, but oh so helpful. Her attitude of attentively listening to her children heaped value upon them. Whatever they had to say was precious to her. She valued their words so much that she was willing to stop, look them in the eye, and listen.
Throughout the years, the echo of her words continually prompted me to stop and then stoop to listen. Really listen.
Of course, it’s impossible to do this every time a child speaks or you might not get supper on the table. (Not to mention the reality of multiple mouths trying to speak at the same time. It’s good we have two ears!) But even though I couldn’t always stop and stoop, this truth of valuing my children’s words became a guiding principle. I came to treasure those times of listening, and in the process I cultivated a lifetime of friendship with my kids.
Many thanks to all my peer mentors!
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