Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"You like me even when I'm not listening?"

Georgia had (another) a time-out today for not listening to me when I asked her to come inside after we got home from the grocery store.  Listening to directions is something I have come to believe no one ever masters.  No one.  Sometimes I catch myself saying things like this to Georgia, "When I ask you to come here I mean right now.  Not when you're finished putting that stuffed animal onto your changing table, not when you're finished coloring that last picture, and not when you've put on enough necklaces to suit your taste.  Right now."

And you know what?

I used to say those exact same things to my middle school history students, "I want you to get back to your seats right now.  Not after you've sharpened your pencil for the bajillionth time, not after you've finished that conversation about what someone allegedly said about you at lunch, and not after you've taken your 10th tour of the hour around the room.  Right now."

And you know what else?

Conversations like this happen between my husband and I too.

Me:  "Do you think you could stop leaving random glasses all over the house and put them in the dishwasher?"

Chris: "When do you think you're going to learn to park in the garage so I can get my car in too?"

Me:  "What do you mean, 'do we have any plans this weekend?', I literally just told you all 900 things we have to do on Saturday & Sunday."

Chris:  "Mag, you can't throw boxes that still have food in them in the recycling bin, remember?"

And I could let you in on a thousand other little snippets of conversation that prove, NO ONE EVER LISTENS.

Today, after Georgia's time-out she sat on the toilet for a while and it seems deep toddler conversations always happen there.  We were talking about her cupcake apron and how it was unraveling a little, we were talking about playing vet, and we were talking about how Pop Pop used to play baseball, and I also threw in, "You know what?  I really like you."

And she just looked at me for a minute.....all serious, and said, "Do you like me even when I don't listen to you?"

"Of course G......I like you all the time.  I don't like it when you don't listen, but that doesn't mean I don't like YOU."

And then in her philosophical three year old way, she took it further, "Do you like me when I scream in the store if you won't buy me candy?  Did you like me that day I ran away from you when we were seeing the butterflies?  Do you like me if I have an accident in my Ariel underwear?"

"Yes, yes, and yes.  There is nothing you could do that would make me not like you."

She just thought about that for a minute, "I can't believe you still like me even when I don't listen."

That kind of hit me a little.  Because, now that I'm a mom I think know I understand unconditional love.  And I don't really know if it's possible to understand it, and feel it, and do it without kids.  You can recognize it, you can aspire to it, you can hope for it, and you can work on it--but bottom line I really can't think of a situation where unconditional love applies like it does with as much viability as when you have kids.

Let's be honest.  My husband loves me like crazy.  I'm his best friend in the whole wide world and he can't imagine life without me (right babe?).  But if I did some horrible thing to ruin our marriage and break the trust we'd worked so hard to build--it's not a sure thing that he'd be willing to stick it out with me.....especially if I kept messing up over and over and over again.  And no one would blame him.

It's not really like that when you have kids.  You love them.  No matter what.  No matter what.  It doesn't mean you have to like what they do, say, become, or espouse to be.......but you love them to the depths of your soul with a scary love that no one better get in the way of.  Because they're your kid.  And unconditional love is a by-product of children.

And when Georgia looks at me in shock and says, "You like me even when I'm not listening?," I just want to scoop her up and smell her Wacky Watermelon scented hair and say, "Of course--and one day when you have your own baby you'll finally understand how that's even possible."

But I don't.  I just say, "Of course!  I love you forever.  Now let's go play vet."

So thanks mom.......for loving me unconditionally.  And for allowing me to experience it like I that I can pass that along to Georgia.........even when she's not listening.


  1. Love this post. Absolutely agree - nobody learns to listen ever. All day at work with adults, still no listening. But I love where you went with this. So important to make sure our children know we love them unconditionally.

    1. Thanks Tricia........It's so hard to always show our kids this--especially when it's been a bit of a frustrating day but it's so good to remind myself that I can hardly expect my three year old to master something adults can't even tackle.

  2. Wow, great post! Made me think of my students, my husband, my baby Eli, my parents and my God, so grateful for bloggers like you who help me stop and reflect for a small moment in my day.


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