Written By: Alyse Gonyea
Much like a cluttered, overflowing kitchen sink with dishes caked with puréed sweet potato and pizza sauce, motherhood can be messy.
I was standing here at our kitchen sink washing the dishes (and can you believe I’ve already done two loads from this sink already today, and it still looks like this?!) while also browning some ground beef for dinner, while my 7-month-old sat (momentarily) contented in her high chair.
The struggle has been real lately. My husband had one day off in the last month, and I haven’t gotten enough uninterrupted sleep the last few nights due to my infant’s recent sleep regression. Coffee had become a major food group. The days have been full and so have my sink and to-do list. My patience, on the other hand, has not. So, when my son repeated to me for the third time that our daughter made a silly noise (since I didn’t respond the first two times), I pretty much lost it. As I was firmly trying to defend my stance of silence to my preschooler, he simply replied, “I just wanted to make sure you heard me.”
Wow. While I was focused on scraping mashed avocado off of a bowl in my third attempt to finally clean all the dirty dishes, he just wanted to be heard.
Is that not too unfamiliar to what us “big-people” desire? To be acknowledged by someone else that what we’re saying is important and heard? At least I know I’m that way! Since I didn’t respond the first time (or the second time), he just wanted to ensure I heard him. That I valued what he had to say more than the sink full of dirty dishes. And not to say that there isn’t a place for some quiet time (because heaven knows I need some moments of silence from my little extrovert sometimes), but I don’t want my kids to ever to think that something is ever too trivial to come to me with. That I’m too busy to listen to what they have to say. That’s a slippery (and dangerous) precedent to set, especially at only 4 years old. I want them to know from the get-go they can talk to me about anything. Silly noises his sister makes. The (5th) Star Wars picture he just drew. How he split his slice of cheese pizza in half at lunch.
Because when they know they can come to me about the little things, they know they can come to me about the big things.
So, I quickly prayed for patience and grace and put down the bowl I was scrubbing. I walked into the living room where he was having lightsaber duels with his Lego characters, looked into his eyes with complete, undivided attention, and said to him, “I hear you. I’m sorry for not listening to what you had to say. Next time, I will respond to you so you know you’re heard. Will you forgive me?”
And in his little grace-filled 4-year-old ways, he did.
For now, I will go back to try and get the dishes cleaned for the fourth time today. But, I won’t forget the importance of knowing when to stop doing the dishes and put the washcloth down.
Alyse is a (pastor’s) wife to her high school sweetheart and a mommy to two awesome kiddos. She’s a former Labour and Delivery nurse who is now navigating the waters of being a stay-at-home-mom. She’s a passionate enthusiast of coffee, cooking, and crafting. She loves anything and everything Disney and may or may not believe she’s a Disney Princess.