“You’re not listening.” My daughter would pause, mid-sentence, whenever I fell into my zombie mode.
She was quite aware that I have a highly chaotic mind that always attempts to multitask. I simply could not fool her. While she was telling me something, she knew when my mind had already drifted off to some task I needed to do or got engrossed in a problem that I was attempting to solve mentally.
It is embarrassing enough if a friend catches you half-listening to her concerns but even worse, in my opinion, if it is your own child who does.
After a few instances that she caught me in that state, I was determined to try my best to be almost, if not 100% attentive to whatever she is saying. Sometimes she would even test me and ask me what exactly she is telling me about to ensure that I am actually, listening. I guess I just ruined my credibility in being ‘present’ real bad.
It was then that I realized that I cannot not allow my children’s days to go by in a blur with me being physically present yet mentally absent. Childhood is way too fast and too short to miss.
I made a few changes in my routines and tried my hardest to avoid common sources of distraction.
I used to always keep my eyes and ears open for messages in various chat groups with friends or family and before I knew it, an hour had gone by just replying to messages here and there, some important and urgent but most of them, either important or urgent – but not both. Whenever a message popped up, I could not help but open it and reply.
So I turn the wifi off every so often especially if I am working with my children or leave it on but set it to silent mode to resist that awful temptation of checking my cellphone every now and then. I try to check it during my so-called break time (if there is such a thing) when I get to sit for a while after a bulk of tasks or after lunch or while waiting elsewhere.
At night, I routinely set my cellphone to do-not-disturb or silent mode at a certain time when I know I am either cooking, eating dinner with the family, attending to my younger child, prepping him for bed, reading him a story or playing family night games together.
TV can take so much of my time and children also have the tendency to be too absorbed in it so we turn it off during weekdays. If it does get turned on, that has to be on rare occasions. It is great that we get to check movie schedules online nowadays or check the plot before we continue watching a movie so that we don’t waste time watching every movie and we get to plan when to watch it. I once was a TV freak – I believe I still am – or I still have that tendency to be one. It is one of the most effective ways for me to get into a zombie mode, except that I am not walking and devouring people but sitting on the couch, devouring movies.
Of course, there’s blogging. As a mom-on-duty (I believe all moms are, stay-at-home or not), this is one of the things that suffer once in a while, in my case, as you can see, based on the frequency of my posts. I cannot be glued on the computer screen for a long time and ask my children not to bother me while I blog. I can write about my reflections on being a mom later on but at present, I must live it. I have figured it works well for me to do my draft in my memo on the phone while waiting for the kids to finish their special classes elsewhere and edit it some other time before posting.
Before you get the slightest imagination though that I have locked my social life up in absolute selfish seclusion, let me tell you that is not at all the case. There are exceptions, of course, such as urgent family or homeschooling concerns, emergency cases, or a friend badly in need of someone to talk to or someone in need of prayer or encouragement, once-in-a-while family gatherings and community service. Otherwise, I try to focus on my children who are right in front of me first, then the others next.
Of course, you miss a few things, a variety of topics of discussion of some sort, a few happenings perhaps, but most of which need not be dealt with now, but can wait during break time.
We all have different responsibilities and needs. If it is necessary for a mom to work, then work – we have different schedules that work for us. Now God has led me to this responsibility, job or mission – whatever we may call it.
Moms, undeniably, are such busy creatures but children deserve full and undivided attention when we are with them – even in the midst of chores. They deserve to be listened to – sincerely – and to be hugged. They have been given by God not just to fulfill my dream of being a mom but with a bigger responsibility than I can ever imagine.
They are here, right now, for me to love, minister and shepherd.
In the midst of teaching, didn’t our Lord stop to welcome the little children? (Mt. 19:13-15)
Didn’t our Holy Mother serve our Lord in His growing years, being absolutely present and attentive to His every need? She went through the mundane tasks of everyday, Her role seemingly insignificant to her neighbors, when, she was in fact, preparing Him for that greatest mission of redeeming the world.
Have you experienced similar struggles?
Lord, help us not to neglect the littlest ones that You have entrusted us with,
to love and raise as Your disciples and children.
May we be ever present to them,
giving them the best of our love and attention,
planting the seeds NOW,
trusting that God will shine on them,
shower them with His Blessings,
and make them bear fruit in His Perfect Time.
To God be the glory!