As you already know, I talk a lot.
I’ve never been what people might call an “Active Listener.”
Oh, sure, I listened to your story, but I probably also interrupted and finished your sentences. I’m an only child. The struggle is real.
But since I’ve had kids… well… it’s worse.
Now I bet you think I’m a super bad listener. Like, you probably think my children have given me ADHD.
And you might be right. But I don’t know because I don’t have time to think about that right now.
When We’re Out
You see, if I run into you at the grocery store and stop to chat, I am listening. I promise. Even while my kids are being loud and squealy, I hear your most recent news and how things are going at home. I actually really do care about you, your family, and your life. I DO.
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It’s just that I’m also doing something else.
I’m doing a head count.
If I maintain eye contact while we’re talking my kids will hide 13 boxes of Pop Tarts in our cart. I blame their father. While I’m trying to ask questions and make adult conversation, they’ll walk together in a big mob to the end of the aisle and just stand there. They like to create Grocery Aisle Traffic Jams and make conversation with strangers.
Isn’t this how kids get taken?
When We’re At Your Party…
Oh my goodness, I’m so glad you invited me to your party. There is a cooped up party animal inside me waiting to get out at every social event. Mainly because I go to so few social events. I really want to mingle and chat. I really want to banter and laugh about adult things.
But you probably think I’m hopped up on something. My eyes are darting around and I keep saying, “One sec,” over and over. But I’m not a junkie. I’m just doing what I do every time I’m out with the kids.
I’m doing a head count.
You see the last time I was not diligent about doing my head count, we had a bit of an issue. I was engrossed in a conversation and making too much eye contact with you.
Eye contact is the enemy of the head count.
I caught sight of #4 just in time to watch him run headfirst into a motorized John Deere car. He jumped up and kept moving, but that was enough for me to decide…
I cannot look my friends in the eyes anymore.
It’s simply too dangerous.
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Because I’m Outnumbered
The issue is I’m outnumbered. I have two arms and 5 kids. And we all know what research says about mob mentality. They wait around until I look distracted and that’s when their best ideas come.
Mischief is made when mama is trying to have a conversation.
They make immediate friends with other unsupervised kids and then before we know it they’re having the time of their life and old people are giving us dirty looks.
And then there are so many little kids running around…
I can’t even do a proper head count.
So if you see me…
- pinpoint an issue
- draw out how it’s affecting you
- label what you don’t like about it
- determine areas of responsibility
- figure out how it’s showing up
- say what you’d rather happen
- brainstorm solutions
So if you see me in public with my kids then know this. I promise I care what you’re saying. I really do want to know how your family is. I’m not trying to be rude or distracted. One day in the future I hope we can have awesome talks where our kids don’t interrupt or get lost or injured. But until then…
I am listening.
Without making eye contact.
While doing a head count.