John Mayer has a song called ‘Say what you need to say’. My daughter has developed a little skit that she does during the song. Everytime he says, “Say what you need to say”, she tries to ‘say what she needs to say’ (pretending like she is having a little dialogue with him) but before she can finish her thoughts of course he breaks into another line of “Say what you need to say” and sings right over her. She acts all exasperated and dramatically tries it again and again until she just shouts out at the radio, “I’m trying to say that I need to say, but you won’t let me”! And we both crack up…every time.
But it’s not as funny when it happens in real life. It hit me hard when a few weeks ago she was practically in tears yelling to me the same words she screamed at Mr. Mayer. It was heartbreaking. Sometimes we don’t ‘listen’ to each other. We have our own agendas or the 2 year old hobbit of the house might be a wee bit distracting at the moment we are trying to converse. I find myself having to ‘make’ the time to have opportunities to just chat. And it’s getting a bit trickier as she enters into the age of social awareness, etiquette and awkwardness. Because sometimes now…she DOESN’t say what she needs to say.
I remember watching a movie with mom when I was young. Some equivalent of a Lifetime Network movie nowadays. There was a scene where a man and woman obviously loved each other but neither of them could find a way to say they were sorry and that they loved each other. As a child I was in agony and simply couldn’t understand WHY they didn’t just come right out and say what they needed to say. I asked mom and she said, “When you grow up you will understand”.
I remember how her words scared me and I thought, “well that kinda sucks”. Why is it that when we grow up things become so complicated? Why do we make it so hard to see things simply and childlike, let go of pride, and just be? What really stinks is that I have not only come to understand what she meant but I have actually lived it out. During the crumbling of my marriage I can point out plenty of times when I should have said something but didn’t.
Growing up sucks sometimes. I guess it has it’s perks, but in many ways I am trying to hold on to a child like perspective more now than ever. Ironically while my little girl is stretching her wings and ever striving towards maturity…I am trying to hang on to innocence and simplicity. So our worlds collide now and then. But I am learning to give her the space she needs to become her…and the art of letting her come to me rather than me driving or pulling something out of her.
And when she does come to me there is a fine line between being over critical and squashing a spirit verses being too lenient and appearing uncaring. Active listening, I think I remember that term from some college psych class. As I get older and (hopefully) wiser I also realize that I don’t always have to be the ONE she can come to. I try to make sure she has some other folks in her life she can trust and feel comfortable with – namely her Dad and grandparents at this point. I even arranged for the school counselor to meet with her periodically just to chat if she felt like it. And that circle will widen as she grows. At least I recognize the importance of sometimes getting out of the way and not being so self centered to think I am the only person she can come to – though admittedly that was hard.
I am striving to learn from my own mistakes and be brave enough to say what I need to say in my own life too. Drowning friends with TMI is not good, but neglecting to tell them something important can be detrimental too. It’s all a delicate balance and I know I will fall off the beam ungracefully plenty of times to come. REM put it best in their ‘Losing my religion’ song. I relate a lot to the line, “Now I’ve said too much, I haven’t said enough”. It’s good to know that I’m not alone in feeling that way. As a busy single mom, nowadays I may not personally get to say everything I need to say – people are busy. So…I just blog what I need to say. Thanks to all of you that have been reading and commenting. It’s been amazing so far.