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.