Zip It: The Magic Power of Listening
Yesterday was a marathon of conversation. Two hours with a new friend and her baby, four hours with a social worker who will soon contribute expert parenting advice on the Families in the Loop website, and a powwow late in the afternoon with an administrator at my daughter’s pre-school. By the end of the day, my throat was sore and my mind was spinning as I was hit with the realization that sometimes a good conversation may not be a whole lot more complicated than simply shutting the f*ck up once in a while.
Conversation number one, with the mom, felt like a date. You know what I’m talking about; when you get together with a new friend for the first time and you fret, much like you did (or do) in your dating life, about what you’ll talk about and how it’ll go. Well, this date was the mommy version of a home run.
What made our chat a heck of a lot of fun were the stories she shared about her pregnancy, becoming a mom, and breastfeeding challenges. For much of the time, all I needed and wanted to do was sip my Intelligentsia iced tea, listen attentively, ask a question or two, and throw out an authentic “bullsh*t!” when she shared a particularly egregious anecdote about militant breastfeeders or inconsiderate grandparents. I’d forgotten how good it felt to listen.
Next up was a four-hour meeting with a social worker who’s starting her own private practice downtown. Yes, you read that correctly. Four hours at Feast in Gold Coast, with a waiter who threw in the towel when it become clear after two hours that we were just getting started.
The conversation felt just as glorious as the first, yet different. We shared expertise, we explored different professional opportunities, and we also talked a lot about our personal lives. This time, I wasn’t the seasoned mommy, the one who could – just by dint of being a parent – give off the vibe that I get it. In fact, at one point I sought her professional advice and then she did the same with me. It felt so good to hear her ideas.
Last up was a chat with the head of my daughter’s pre-school. I have to admit, my daughter and I both got extremely lucky when she enrolled there. Thanks to a bunch of very kind moms, it became a community for both of us. While she learned how to color, count, and socialize, I got to connect with some of the most wonderful women I’ve ever known.
Like in every healthy relationship, though, you experience rocky moments, and sometimes a conversation is in order. That’s what the director of the school knew when she approached me yesterday to talk. And I did. For an hour, I vented and she listened. She seemed to quickly understand that I wasn’t seeking an exchange of ideas, and I wasn’t looking for answers, I just needed to let it all out. Let me tell you, feeling like she heard me felt really, really good.
So one day, three great conversations. In each, I learned that a satisfying conversation isn’t always about offering a witty nugget of wisdom or magic bullet solution. Turns out, it’s often what you don’t say that means the most. And with that, it’s time for me to shut the f*ck up and go enjoy the weekend.
Happy Memorial Day!
~ By Wendy Widom
Got the pic from She Knows.