Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"Mom, Put On Your Ears": On Paying More Attention

Sometimes when I'm having a hard time falling asleep, I'll start writing blog posts in my head. As made obvious by how infrequently I post, 9 times out of 10, this helps me fall asleep because I'm even boring myself. There are those rare occasions, however, where something sticks and then I actually have to get up out of bed and type it out. Tonight is one of those nights. (And I'm hoping after getting at least this off my brain, I'll have an easier time falling asleep when I head back in to my snoring preschooler).

Liam and I were driving to the store today. I was running through the grocery list in my head, while simultaneously trying not to sing along to "Let It Go," thinking about my to-do list to get ready for celebrating a friend's wedding this weekend, and going over my student conferencing schedule for the next day. Though I hate to admit it, I was doing all of this thinking while Liam was talking to me. In my defense, he was reciting the same lines from Leo the Lightning Bug that he had been saying since we left preschool twenty minutes before, so I thought I was in the clear. But then, from the back of the car, I hear

"Mom, put your ears on."

At first, I had no idea what this meant. Luckily, I'm in the my-kid-is-totally-a-mini-human-being-and-can-articulate-himself-pretty-well stage, so I flat out asked, "What does that mean?"

"You need to listen," he said.

And then he proceeded to pull out the mom trick of whispering his next sentence to make sure I really was, indeed, listening to him.

Though a funny moment (and a later funny Facebook status update) at the time, I really started to think about it while attempting to fall asleep next to his snoring. Liam reminded me today that with the craziness of the end of the semester, news of a new summer course, both exciting and tragic things happening in life, I've not been a very good listener lately.

Sometimes, we can take our kids for granted.

Liam is my constant. He's there (most) every morning when I wake up and (most) every evening when I fall asleep. If I'm not at work and Liam isn't at his dad's house, I'm with him. He's there for stories and dinners and breakfasts and play time and breakfast-for-dinners. He's there when I'm happy, when I'm frustrated, when I'm sad, when I'm tired, when I'm excited -- all of it. And, with not even being four yet, I'm still in the stage where it feels like he always will be a constant. But, the kicker is, he won't.

Right now, I'm his best friend. Right now, he wants to tell me everything, in excruciating detail, that happened at preschool. He'll tell me all of his fears. He'll share all of his joys with me. I get the tears and the laughter. The tantrums and the living room dance parties. But it won't always be like this. Now, I'm not mourning that eventuality -- my whole goal as a parent is to create a responsible, compassionate, functioning ADULT who builds his own life outside of my home -- but that I need to spend more time focusing on the Liam I have now.

I remember when I was pregnant and first had Liam, my thesis advisor told me, "Don't blink." I remember thinking, probably too harshly and jadedly, that those words were some sentimental "mom stuff" I would never feel. However, I blinked and now Liam is four. I'll blink again and he'll be eight. I'll blink again and he'll be a teen. And so on and so on and so on.

So, I'm going to start to try and focus on putting my ears back on. On making my time with Liam, my time with Liam.

Damn, I never thought an almost four-year-old could teach me so much.


  1. Beautiful Rachael! Your story compelled me to share something I recently experienced, so I hope you don't mind. My life is so drastically different now that Auston is an adult, but still at home with me. We don't see each other much, so that means our interactions have to count. The struggle I have though is when he decides that midnight is the time to come and share what has been happening in his life after my day starting at 6:30am.
    I realized in reading this that I most definitely did not have my ears on when he was telling me something about his day last night, and now I will call him to apologize and make sure I hear all he has to say.
    It is so easy to get wrapped up in all of life swirling around us, but you're right that the moments we have with them at 4 or almost 19 are precious and need to be fully engaged in. oxo

  2. Megan, your comment made my day. That is so wonderful.