It's dinnertime. Everyone's hungry and tired. My 18-month old is crying, wanting "up" in my arms, pulling on my pant leg. My 5-year old is telling me about his day, plus every two seconds saying "mom, mom", wanting to show me a new dance move or something he has made.
There I am, half-cooking, half-listening. I want to scream and tell everyone to stop asking me for things I can't provide, especially not all at the same time. Sometimes I do scream. But practicing mindfulness has helped me realize how wonderful those crazy moments really are, and that my suffering is self-induced by wishing it was different or that I could be a supermom who met everyone's needs at the same time. Instead of wishing it away, I've started to stop and breathe and get down on one knee, look my kids in the eyes, and listen. They just miss me as much as I do them from a long day of work.
Taking time to truly listen and get a couple of their immediate needs met takes less time than I thought, and actually means dinner gets cooked faster, with fewer distractions. Now I'm cooking when I'm cooking and listening when I'm listening. Back and forth, being as fully present for each in the moment I focus on it.
The rewards are immense and immediate. Have you ever fully listened to a five year old recount something he or she is excited about? Even if you aren't super interested in the topic, you can get fascinated by their facial expressions and emotional investment in what they are saying. I imagine as though I have never before heard my son's story, and watch as he talks in awe about the world he lives in. It's hard not to get excited about life and be in awe about how he thinks. I smile when he smiles, raise my eyebrows in surprise when he does. And I know he feels more listened to, more connected to me, so he can go on to play happily while I cook.
— Heather, mother of 18-month old and 5-year old