This baby is coming any day now. And my other babies can sense it; they’ve been so excited since the moment my husband shared the news with them (EIGHT. MONTHS. AGO. No, I obviously did not authorize that event, and he obviously didn’t think about it beforehand. We are all very ready for mommy not to be pregnant anymore!), and they still are. But in the past month or so, it has become clear that their little subconsciouses are starting to realize that things are about to change in big ways for them. They’re freaking out a little bit, and I haven’t dealt with it very well.
The biggest manifestation of their internal freakouts is what I’ll call the Eternal Deafness to Instruction and the Incessant Explaining Why Listening Isn’t Necessary. This phase is making me lose my mind. There is almost literally nothing I say that doesn’t meet a rebuttal that goes on, and on, and on, and on. Aside from how this triggers my oldest-child control issues, sometimes I feel like I’m descending into madness from sheer invisibility in my home.
Last week, I had reached the end of my rope. I felt like I had tried everything: positive reinforcement, distraction, turning things into a game, yelling (whoops)--you know, all the things. Nothing worked in the slightest. Finally, I had the genius idea to ask God what to do because these children JUST WOULD NOT LISTEN TO ME.
The answer was immediate and simple: “Start listening to them. I listen to you so much more than you listen to me.”
Those were the actual words, but the sense I got was that the ratio of my listening to God’s listening was so incredibly lopsided that I can’t even fathom it, which is undeniably true but something I hadn’t framed in that way before. And it made sense. I actually listen to my kids a fair amount, I thought, especially considering how much they talk. Most kids are chatty; my kids are unstoppable. My 4-year-old regularly runs outside in a panic because he’s spotted an approaching pedestrian who doesn’t know yet to pass our house on the other side of the street, and they are ripe for the accosting. If people haven’t escaped after ten minutes, I’ll usually go out and tell them they’re free to ignore him and continue on their way, because he literally will not stop talking, ever, and they eventually peel themselves away, only to be chased down until he reaches his border limits at the street corner, yelling after them until they’re out of earshot. I have never heard a kid talk so much or ask so many questions.
So I feeeeeel like I listen a lot, and I answer a lot of questions. Most of the time I even enjoy it, for the most part. It’s fun having curious kids. But what this answer pointed out to me was that most of what I listen to is storytelling, babbling, feelings, observations--when the talking turns into disagreeing with me or telling me I’m wrong, I shut it down. I’ve had zero patience for it and, until that moment, had seen zero value in allowing it to continue. I didn’t realize that’s what I’d been doing, but it was suddenly very clear.
My husband and kids left for a family reunion right after this, so I haven’t actually applied it very well yet (the two days I had to practice were still hard, because this kind of listening is NO FUN and I am no good at it). But I’m certain God’s telling me the truth on this one, and it is an answer I desperately need. I need to learn to take time for hearing my little ones’ arguments. I need to detach myself from my obsessive need for dominion. I need to stop trying to control how they think and behave. I need to consider the world from their vantage point and from their experience if I’m ever going to have any influence for good over them.
This principle is easily applicable to pretty much everything in my life right now. In fact, I spent an hour writing a 3-page treatise on the hows and whys, but now I’m deleting it and just leaving it at that. There’s no point talking about how great listening is and how other people should listen (I know, it’s hilarious how much I need this) when I could just start listening more.
Listening to God is hard sometimes. Listening to people can be hard, too. Hearing with our hearts means laying aside our own thoughts for a moment in order to give new thoughts space. I know several people who are really good at this, and those people are healers in their souls, because simply being heard fixes so many hurts. Let's all endeavor to be hearing healers as we go about our days, shall we?
And that’s all I have to say about that. Sat nam : )
Exploring the spiritual side of things. Brevity is not my forte.