It’s Monday night and I am in a cozy chair in one of my favorite locations for my writing time. For a very long time, Monday evening or sometimes afternoon and evening, has been by time. I get out of the house, alone, and go to a coffee shop or restaurant with wi-fi with my laptop, earbuds and sometimes writing journals.
Flashback- there was a time not that long ago before I owned a laptop and before I owned a smartphone and when I went out by myself, I wrote with pens on paper. I still have a vast collection of notebooks, journals and many colors of pens and do still use them.
I digress. It’s Monday night. I have already taken some simple “me time” by just being alone, sipping a yummy drink and chatting with friends on Facebook or by text. There have also been times when I needed to just escape first and I watch a tv show or even a movie. After I decompress, then I am ready to write. I have a writing playlist that I have been using for a long time to set the stage and prime my pump for writing.
My music is playing in my ears and I pull up WordPress and begin to write…
The music stops.
A familiar ring tone or maybe my infamous telegraph text notification interrupts my thoughts. It’s my son or my daughter or sometimes my husband. Someone needs mom right now. I could be slightly annoyed by the interruption but as I tell my husband, I am always happy to stop and listen. Being a mom comes first in my life. Sure I get busy with things and don’t always pay attention in the way my ideal self would respond. I am notorious for the phrase, “in a minute”. My children think “a minute” is equal to an hour. I have a vivid memory of telling my daughter at a park day, many years ago, that “we are leaving in a minute” and she told her friend, “Oh, we have plenty of time!”
When I am out of the house, taking time to myself, it is easier to stop and make the decision to make time for my children. I can also be a better listener and more attentive because I don’t have household distractions or all three of my children vying for my attention at once. sometimes, my husband gets frustrated with the kids for “interrupting mom during her time”. I remind him that it is ok. I am happy to be there for them. My oldest often sends me text messages. Sometimes it is a quick question and other times he is “stressed-out” by something he needs to complete or maybe how his father is approaching him about something. At my best moments, I try to truly listen and not jump to solving. I reflect on them what I hear they are saying and feeling. Sure, there have been times when I get frustrated and try to solve it quickly to get on with what I am doing. And sometimes i listen but as the time ticks on, and my child continues to be emotionally upset, I grow impatient, at least in my mind. I am known for being a good listener. I also have a tendency to let my children’s priorities come first and at times, to the detriment of my own needs.
I feel I handled things particularly well this evening when the phone rang just when I felt like I had a good topic to write about. Tonight, I also had an unusually high goal of writing 3 posts in my 4 hours. I joined a writing challenge at the begging of the month, one in which I made my own goal for writing for the month. We all paid $30 to one person with the expectation that if we meet our goal, we will get the money back. I jumped at the chance to be a part of this challenge. I have longed to post weekly blogs for well, for too long. I think I might average monthly, looking back over the past 18 months of this particular Child-led Learning Blog. I set a goal to write 8 blog posts for my Child-led Learning Blog in one month’s time. I made it specifically so I couldn’t just post on random things on my Ginaslifejourney Blog. That would be too easy for me and distract me from my goal of a regular blog post here. And 8 posts felt like just enough of a push. I also knew a month’s goal rather than writing so much per week would work better for me. I work in bursts of time and energy.
So tonight, when the phone rang, I answered it not knowing what to expect, “home” was calling. My child was upset. Unhappy with how dad talked and acted. upset about a long list of things. Out of sorts all day. I listened. I reflected. I helped identify the feelings. I then offered some perspective of what dad’s point of view might be. And I did that in a respectful way. more complaining and rants of things that have been bothering her for weeks. unhappy with a co-op class.
This was not going to be easy. Yet, I knew I needed to move this along in some way and also let my child know that I have this goal and it is important to me and I need to finish my writing. I begin to text my husband to fill him in, knowing full well that he is in the middle of making dinner and also appreciating the possible context of the situation. I offer suggestions that only lead to more upset. I ask, “how can I help you?”
“I don’t know”. A common response. I make a plan and fill her dad in by text. “If you need to go to your room to eat, that would be fine and then after dinner, you and dad can talk”. More upset. I clearly describe my situation. I describe how I have a goal to write 3 posts tonight because there are only 4 days left in the month and this is my only real writing day. I state that I want to listen and help and also that this writing goal is important to me.
Somewhere in the conversation, I also realize this child needs 1:1 mom time and I even make a plan to make that happen for this week and put it on the google calendar. I have to be clear and decisive., something that doesn’t come easy to me and especially is not easy for my child. Somehow I am able to make a plan and my child agrees to go back in the house to set the table like dad asked and even initiates ending our conversation. That surprises me. This is my child who I have needed to hang up on because I have been yelled at over the phone and after many attempts to listen, I must disconnect to prevent myself from reacting or reacting more.
My life as a mother is full of many interruptions. As someone who has grown away from routine as I unschooled myself in the process of my children’s homeschool journey, I have often enjoyed the spontaneity of interruptions. I am someone who if I am concentrating on something or working to complete a task, doesn’t do well with being interrupted. it depends in part on what I am doing and how much time I feel I have to complete something. Because other times, I am good at stepping away from what I am doing to really listen to my child. I have two sides to me that could be labeled my “public school, follow all the rules, do what I am told aspect” and my “easy-going, open-minded, out-of-the-box, creative aspect.
I often say I learn far more from my children in this life learning journey than I could possibly teach them. As I learn more about myself, through them, it helps me to be a better mother and to better understand them and help them in their journey. Now that I think about it, calling this blog, “child-led learning” has more than one meaning. My children’s homeschool journey has been a child-led and interest-led approach. I too have learned and grown from my children’s lead. Living life with them leads me to learn more about myself.
Tonight, the interruption inspired met to write and complete a blog post. One that I feel very good about! Embrace the interruptions. Some day, the house will be empty, and you will be alone with your memories of “when they were young”, missing the little voices talking to you while you are in the bathroom or cooking dinner or even the teenager demanding your attention.
Read more posts on my Child-led Learning Blog: