Please Be Quiet
Please, Please, Be Quiet.
I remember it vividly, when he first started talking. He started off with “Dada” and quickly moved to “helicopter” and “basketball”, all before saying the coveted “Mama”. But then he said it, that sweet, simple word – my name – and it lit me up in a way nothing else ever could. Hearing him say “Mama” moved my heart so much I would give the boy anything when he said it. How did we go from that to now me hearing the word “Mom” and it making me cringe or roll my eyes or sigh in exasperation?
I’m not a bad mom, and I love this boy dearly, but the child talks NON.STOP. Like, constantly. Much of the time he is managing to talk for twenty straight minutes about absolutely nothing. Many times he is talking about trinkety little toys he wants or just saying the words “poop” and “butt” over and over because they are just so magically alluring at this age.
I’ve never actually said it, but I’d be a huge liar if I said the words “shut up!!!!!” didn’t play through my mind while I politely begged him for a moment of silence while driving. Why? Why does it make me so crazy to hear this boy that I taught to speak babble on?
I’ve found at most points in my parenting journey thus far that when my kids are annoying me it is because they are not my focus. I am not giving them my whole self. I have an agenda that I am trying to accomplish. Some of my agendas are important. I work from home and there are a few things that simply must get done in order for me to keep my job. Some of my agendas are completely frivolous and self centered (not that this is bad or wrong in any way). For example, I love listening to worship music in the car. I will have a song I particularly want to hear and having the barrage of poop talk flowing from the backseat doesn’t really keep with the tone of my vision.
But what is the purpose of this vision anyway? Peace, right? Time with the Lord? Some sort of meaning and renewed sense of purpose? If so, my irritation isn’t really serving my vision at all, is it?
When I remember that my primary focus, my life’s most important call is to raise these children, somehow my plans seem so unimportant. The mental shift that happens when I remind myself of the immense JOY I receive from having a deep conversation with my son is powerful. Here’s how I have found, err scratch that, how I constantly work to find that reconnection:
- Eliminate the background noise. As a parent we are constantly being bombarded with background noise and unwanted external stimulus (think noisy police car toys, obnoxious tv shows, etc.). The more we can turn down the noise on these unnecessary things, the more capable we are of tuning into the sounds that matter.
- Set work hours. I have really focused recently on being better at compartmentalizing. Generally a male strong suit and female weakness, compartmentalizing has fantastic advantages. I work during nap time and bed time, I’m off during other times. I try not to stress myself out about the red counter on my email tab as it slowly creeps up, I disengage in mental list-making and strategizing, and I focus as much of my attention as possible on my kids during their precious awake hours.
- Ask questions. When my boy seems to be babbling on about nothing, I’ll ask him to explain to me what he is talking about. Usually it’s very interesting. If he’s talking that poop talk over and over I’ll ask him to tell me what he wants to be when he grows up or how he is feeling about us having another baby. His babbling is his attempt at starting a conversation with me. Him repeating “Mom” over and over is him desperately seeking connection with me. No mama on earth could deny their child that.
- Remember this: “If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” –CM Wallace. Holy cow, enough said.
Mamas, I bless you today to be the best listener in the world for your child. I bless you with patience and with a strong desire and talent to engage deeply with your precious little (or big!) one. I refresh your energy stores right now in Jesus’ name and I say you are rested, powerful, and perfectly ready to do this eternal work you were created for. Now, go and answer that question he asked about why farts stink and why the sun is yellow and not green and why people need sleep to survive and why a spoon is called a spoon… You got this, mama!