Saturday, September 7, 2013

How my single friends make me a better parent

I have a dear friend who danced into my life less than three years ago with her trademark enthusiasm and passion. She's the type of friend who accepts and embraces who you are from the moment you meet her, and though we haven't known each other long, we've somehow always been family. She lived with us for a year once, and we would sit at the dining room table late into the night talking about all things hard and true, or sometimes mundane, or sometimes hilarious.

Though I don't do it on the page, during intimate conversation I have a tendency to go on little rants. So during our late-night musings, I would often find myself using declarative phrases like "Here's the thing..." before falling down a rabbit hole of long-held opinions that had been silently bouncing around in my brain waiting to be let out, to which my dear long-suffering friend would usually reply "Tell me the thing."

Though there's a hint of sarcasm in it, a hint of here-we-go-again-brace-yourself, I've always found "Tell me the thing" incredibly affirming. To me, it says "Go ahead, I'm listening. And I've got all the time in the world for whatever it is you have to say." I get the feeling that maybe she'd like to grab a drink and get comfortable while I pour my frequently too cautious heart out over all the little messes that don't really matter.

She really is an incredible listener, my friend, and a couple weeks ago, after I had apologized for selfishly highjacking yet another conversation with her, all for the sake of emptying out my own cluttered brain in front of real adult people, that's when it hit me: She is teaching me how to parent. Because in the midst of her listening, I am learning the holy, redemptive act of hearing others out. In the midst of her listening, I am reminded to hear and affirm the words of even the smallest voices in my own life. In the midst of her listening, I am realizing that sometimes the best way to build trust and dissolve tensions and form bonds, is silently. So someday, years from now, when my son comes home from school all worked up over some little incident that feels so big to his childhood heart, she will be the one who taught me not to fix or diminish or ignore, but to grab a drink, pull up a seat, and say "Tell me the thing."

Baby and Auntie.

No comments :

Post a Comment