Saturday: Mom Musings about the Power of Listening

Vegan Goodness:

Today we ate:

  • Breakfast: Green smoothies and cream of wheat with raisins for everyone!
  • Lunch: Leftovers: LP and Dad had leftover split pea dal and Mom had leftover basil eggplant. 
  • Mom snacked on pita chips and LP had some crackers and cream cheese after nap time.  Mom and Dad also ate some more brownies.
  • Dinner: Slow-cooker white bean cassoulet along with biscuits and salad. 
  • Mom and Dad had more brownies – yum!

Money Matters:

Today we spent the following:

  • $4.00 for a delicious soy hot chocolate at True Grounds (Ball Square coffee shop)

Mom Musings:

In college I was a peer counselor (or a “houser” as we called ourselves – the peer counseling center was called “The House” and we literally worked out of an old house).  I loved being a peer counselor for a lot of reasons.  I enjoyed helping people, and the other peer counselors that I met became my closest friends.  Part of what bound us all together (in addition to our desire to help others) is our belief in the power of active listening.  Learning how to actively listen was the majority of our training and this training taught me that truly and actively listening is hard.  It requires patience, focus and physical and emotional energy.  But with all of this active listening was one of the most powerful ways to support people.

I was thinking about my “houser” training this week when I hung out with some friends.  In all these interactions I needed someone to listen to me . . . to really listen.  I was emotionally drained and just a bit tired (ya know, having a baby and all).  I just wanted to vent a little bit, and I am so, so grateful to have such great friends who get that!  They paid attention to me, validated my feelings, helped me feel a little less crazy and a little more loved.  They didn’t try to fix my problems, they just empathized.  It was exactly what I needed.

I often think about how much I want to truly, deeply listen to my son.  It is hard to do sometimes.  I’m always tempted to finish his sentences for him (a bad habit I have that also can make the G-man crazy).  Lately it feels like I’m being pulled in a million different directions, between taking care of both kids, getting meals together, keeping the house in reasonable order and trying to work on some of my own projects.  When I’m feeling particularly harried it is easy to simply tell LP “yeah” and “that’s nice” when he is trying to describe what he’s doing, or tell me about what he did when he was outside playing.  But lately I’m working on listening, really listening.  I kneel down and look him in the eye.  I repeat what I heard him say and ask him if I got it right.  I try to validate his feelings, even when they don’t change the outcomes (i.e. “I know want to play at the park more, and you are mad that we have to leave, and being mad is ok.  But we are still leaving because we need to have lunch.”).

Listening matters.  It’s about more than simply knowing what the other person said.  It’s about a vital human connection.  I believe that listening, real listening, joins us, binds us, in ways that superficial interactions don’t.  I want my kids to know how to really listen and connect with others, and I want to give them the gift of listening to them, and show my love for them by caring enough to really pay attention to what they say.  Even at two, my son has tons of important things to say.  They may not always seem important to an adult audience, but when he tells me about what is planning to do with his toy fruit (usually, it’s “cut fruit” and “make soup”) or announces the obvious (“baby IP cry”) it is important.  It’s important to him, so it’s important to me, and I can show him that by listening.  Actively listening.  For real.

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