Listening With a Careful Ear

If we are not careful, we may miss valuable opportunities to teach our children and to learn from them, all because we are too busy. We may miss out on hearing about how they are managing friendships and peer pressure, or witnessing examples of how they are walking in faith by the small things they do and say. We may miss the manifestation of all the lessons we worked so hard to teach them, if we are not careful.

My husband was traveling recently, and it was just me and the boys. Needless to say, I was in Mommy-Survival mode! I had full responsibility for preparing all meals, checking packed lunches to ensure they included more than potato chips and Gatorade, getting the kids to school on time, picking the kids up from school on time, helping with homework, as well as providing transportation to and from soccer practice after a full day at the office—hats off to all the single parents holding it down like that every day!

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point during the week, I went into autopilot, and my sole mission was to successfully end one day, and prepare to start the next. One night my older son asked me a question as we were packing lunches for the next day. He said, “Mom, isn’t it amazing what we’ve done with the house?” I caught myself giving  him a quick response, “Yes, Honey,” as I continued preparing my lunch. After a few minutes of silence, I realized that I had given him a quick answer so that I could “keep it moving.” I had essentially shut down the conversation.

We still had a few tasks to complete for the evening, but I decided that the tasks at hand could wait, so I could get back to his question. As it turns out, I had not understood his question at all. By asking a simple clarification, it opened the door for a wonderful conversation about gratitude. When I invited him to say more, he went through almost every room in our home, with his younger brother chiming in, and made note of several things we had changed or added since moving in. My adult eyes were focused on what still needed to be addressed, but their youthful, grateful eyes saw all that we had accomplished, and they were grateful. I almost missed the opportunity to connect with my sons, because I was focused on completing a task.

My friend, Dee Cadet, wrote a book entitled, Laundry Can Wait. As the title suggests, there are tasks that we need to accomplish throughout the day, but these are not as important as the people for whom we are often doing the tasks. My Pastor, Dr. Keith Troy, often emphasizes: “people before things,” or the importance of seeing our relationships as more valuable than our daily, mundane tasks. This phrase, and the title of my friend’s book, are my reminders to focus on what really matters in life.

I am listening, Sons, I am listening.