I was looking forward to a walk alone tonight, but she begged to come along. I said, "No." (I don't have a problem drawing boundaries. I'm with my children all day, teaching them and interacting in meaningful ways, so it wouldn't be wrong to take a walk alone.) But she asked again and I changed my mind. "You have to keep up," I said. She did keep up. She had a lot to say, too. I had a hunch she'd end up talking and I'd end up listening.
Girls have a lot of words and I have three girls, so we have a lot of words spoken in our house. And the older my daughters get the more I came called on to listen. There are moments when they interrupt me, again, and I can't hide my irritation and I think that's okay. I'm usually doing something like studying Logic or Latin and so they are actually interrupting something meaningful, and to some extent, they must also learn to be sensitive to other people, even Mom, and learn that people don't exist for entirely for their own sake. I guess I hope when I lose patience and look up from my work with a sigh, it might actually be in good timing, when they have actually been interrupting too much.
Many years ago, I had a friend at church who had two beautiful yet virtuous, friendly yet discrete, witty yet kind teenage daughters and these girls just seemed a complete impossibility to me. How could they even exist? (They were homeschooled. Their mom and dad were engaged and attentive. And they weren't dating. All those things should probably be noted.) But also, I asked this lady how she was doing it, since her daughters were so remarkable. She laughed and sighed a tired sigh and answered, "We talk a lot about what they want to talk about." I remember that. At the time, it seemed like a given that she listened when they spoke, but I understand. There was probably a lot of words being said and it was probably a sacrifice for her to be listening so much. Looking back, she was a women in her full strength like I am, with her own pursuits I like have, so she probably had to yoke her strength and put down her own pursuits in order to make that time.
I'm always listening in this season of motherhood. And then I call my mom and I listen to her, too. And I laugh to myself about this, since I, of all people, know just how many words are inside me that I am not sharing in order to listen instead. It is interesting that I seem to "say" more of all the things I want loved ones to hear and know by listening instead of speaking.