Mom, You’re Not Listening With Your Eyes

Laura Harris

Moms are fantastic multitaskers, aren’t we? I’m not saying dads or people without kids can’t multitask, but moms log a lot of hours in the juggle-eight-things-at-once department. We’re like Olympic athletes, rising out of bed at the crack of dawn, or later earlier, and immediately picking up our multitasking torch, unceasing until long after the sun has set.

Some people are great at forming little foam leaves on the top of their coffee. Some people can sniff out a killer clearance sale like it’s Moby Dick.

I, on the other hand, am a multi-tasker. I juggle my life, my marriage, my two kids, my career, my house, my beliefs, my dreams, the cold side of my pillow, my Facebook newsfeed, my Netflix wish list, and my jumbled thoughts about the next election, and I do it like a boss. Some days, I crash and burn. But I love my life and wouldn’t have it any other way.

And that’s good, right? I mean, how else is a mom going to keep her kids clothed, nurtured, and out of the ER if she’s not able to handle several tasks at once?

The answer to that question came while I was driving my car and listening to an audio book (very safely, because I’m in training to be a multitasking Olympian, remember?). It was called Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom. It’s a collection of interviews the author conducted with his Jewish rabbi from childhood, Albert Lewis. During one of Albom’s visits to Lewis’ home, he dug up some sermon notes from 1958.

The following anecdote from Lewis struck such a powerful chord in my heart that I had to pull over and write it down:

A little girl came home from school with a drawing she made in class. She danced into the kitchen where her mother was preparing dinner.

“Mom, guess what?” she squealed, waving the drawing. Her mother never looked up.

“What?” she said, tending to the pots.

“Guess what?” the child repeated, waving the drawing.

“What?” the mother said, tending to the plates.

“Mom, you’re not listening.”

“Sweetie, yes I am.”

“Mom,” the child said, “You’re not listening with your EYES.”

Who would have thought a rabbi from New Jersey who wrote a sermon 29 years before I was even chewing on my own baby toes would speak straight into my life as a mother in 2016?

That got me thinking. Kids need eye contact. This I already knew. But, how often did I make eye contact with my kids this week? Just today?

My 3 year old is so full of life, and she loves to narrate her days. Sometimes, that means she speaks a sentence seven or eight times, which can give my listening skills a run for their money. I do take time with her to read stories or play games or do a craft or just talk. But when I’ve got my “multi-tasking mom” Olympic torch in my hand, and she’s vying for my attention, how often do I listen, truly listen, to my daughter with my eyes?

I’m not slapping myself on the wrist for cleaning my dishes and doing the laundry, because my kids do need to learn that there is a time and a place for work to be done. But there are those precious moments unfolding when the kids want to show me the fort they’ve built or the picture they’ve drawn or the game they’ve created.

If I’m not listening with my eyes, even just for a moment, I’ll miss them.

Even though I am not Jewish, I believe the wisdom doled out in Rabbi Lewis’ sermon stretches beyond belief systems. I believe that God uses moments like this to help us grow. For that, I’m thankful.

This was a refreshing reminder that multitasking is not what I live for. Sure, it’s a byproduct of my desire to serve my family, but I just needed the reminder that my family is more important than the tasks of my day. That looks different to every person.

For me, it means being more proactive at listening or kneeling down to my kids’ level more often or putting down my phone to make eye contact when my child is talking. Or just throwing my phone through a window. That’d do the trick.

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Mom, You're Not Listening with Your Eyes | BonBon Break



This post was written by Laura Harris exclusively for BonBon Break Media LLC.

Laura Harris is a writer for hire, wife, and mother of two rambunctious cherubs with a background in personal finance. She has been featured on Scary Mommy, LifeHack, and The Penny Hoarder. When she’s not on an adventure with her family, sipping chai tea out of her Star Wars mug, or curled up with a nerdy book, you can find her blogging about family and finance at Piggy Bank Dreams.