Hearing with Your Heart



Since last night was one of the most emotionally challenging ones I’ve had in a long time as a single working mom, I decided that it would be really smart to ask my 9-year old daughter what I could do better as a parent.

I mean, what’s another slap in the face when you’ve already had like three?

And so, I waited for her to tell me to let her play more Minecraft, and allow her to not have to use her tokens (that she earns doing chores) to watch her Stampy Longnose You Tube videos, both of which have been part of a recurring and very intense discussion about technology usage we’ve been having these days.

Instead, she told me that I work too much.

Why was I worried about another slap? Try punch to the uterus. 

Then she kept hitting, with the “most parents leave their job at a certain time and then are home” and “you’re always on your phone” and well, mostly, she just wanted to spend more time with me or at least, she wanted me to ask her to spend more time with me.

I should have just caught up on Veep and called it a night. 

She quickly piggy-backed her statements with her own questionable computer and smart phone usage and “I need to work on it too, Mom” which really only made me want to squeeze her harder than I had only a few seconds prior.

I opened my mouth with so much to tell her to try and explain, thoughts I’ve had for months now, the curse of being fairly self-aware.

I wanted to say how I’ve done my best at balancing being alone and working and working and working which, you know, is just impossible.

And let’s just be honest here, single working mom or not, “balance” is the hot sexy jerk that everyone thinks they want to sleep with but then when they do they’re all “Darn, what a jerk, what exactly was I thinking?” because it’s impossible and guilt-inducing and completely unrealistic.

It’s not even sexy. Just say it. “Balance.” Meh.

I wanted to say that the weight of supporting her and her three siblings in all senses of that word is humungous. And exhausting. And humungously exhausting. That I’ve probably never encountered anything in my life so challenging, so incredibly daunting, really, the lives of four little precious humans alone in my care.

I wanted to get a little whiny and self-piteous and shake my fists in the air because “no one understands how hard it really is.”

But then I looked at who was sitting in front of me. My baby. My first baby. The one who made me a mother, and I just said, “You’re right. I’ll try harder.” And I meant it, I did. I really did, though I’m not sure I’ll be able to shut down as much as she would like. (Or maybe as much as I would like to). I do have to work a lot, more than I might want or you know what sometimes not enough, because I love work. And I’m lucky to love it. My computer and my smartphone are often my life lines, my funny friends, my loving boyfriend, my welcome diversion to my fears. And sometimes, my reality.

But I will try. Harder.

Mostly, I wanted her to know I appreciated that she was comfortable sharing her thoughts with me. That she knew I wouldn’t jump all over her and tell her all the things I was thinking in my head, all the grown-up things she, as a kid, doesn’t need to hear about or really, even know one bit about.

And that I heard her.

With my ears and my heart.

About the author

Kristen Chase
Kristen Chase is a writer, author, and a single mom of four. It's as exhausting as it sounds (at least the mom part). Also, awesome.

Kristen is also co-founder of Cool Mom Picks and author of The Mominatrix's Guide to Sex.


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13 Responses to “Hearing with Your Heart”

  1. D Jun 05 at 11:06 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you for sharing this. Your blogging has been a source of comfort for me throughout this journey of motherhood. Thank you for that. And I wish you all the luck in this journey you are on. Keep trying. 

  2. Kelcey Kintner
    Kelcey Jun 05 at 11:14 pm Reply Reply

    Love this.

  3. Titania Jordan Jun 05 at 11:52 pm Reply Reply

    I love you. And this. So much.

  4. Amelia Sprout Jun 06 at 12:28 am Reply Reply

    “And let’s just be honest here, single working mom or not, “balance” is the hot sexy jerk that everyone thinks they want to sleep with but then when they do they’re all “Darn, what a jerk, what exactly was I thinking?””

    I’ve missed you writing.  Welcome back. :) 

  5. Kristen Chase
    Kristen Jun 06 at 12:44 am Reply Reply

    You guys are so lovely, thank you. It’s good to be back. 

  6. Holly Jun 06 at 2:05 am Reply Reply

    Wow, I can relate. My kids love it when my phone dies so I can be more present. I also work too hard, too many hours. Seems to the nature of working for yourself. 

  7. kerri-lynne Jun 06 at 3:51 am Reply Reply

    bravo kristen! welcome to the other side <3

  8. Missi Jun 06 at 6:24 pm Reply Reply

    You are a great mom.

  9. Janice Croze Jun 06 at 6:33 pm Reply Reply

    Wow. She kicked me in the uterus right through my laptop. I am still reeling a little. I know my kids feel the same way. My oldest is 12 and he is no longer as obsessed with my constant presence and attention, but my six year old tells me every day to not work so much. I don’t always have the same restraint you have. I tell her, I am sorry, but I have to work, just like she has to go to school. I have to pay for food, and clothes, and figure skates… But you are right. She doesn’t need to hear all that. She just needs to hear me hearing her — and see me trying harder.

    • Kristen Chase
      Kristen Jun 08 at 10:18 am Reply Reply

      I think awareness is key, Janice. And did you see that piece by Catherine Newman on Motherlode (NYT Parenting blog?). Worth a read. xo

  10. jyl from @momitforward Jun 07 at 2:31 am Reply Reply

    I needed this post.

    Love seeing you on Alphamom, Kristen! xoxo


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