Love listens

By Mir
October 9, 2008

We are in the midst of one of those difficult times that makes being a parent so much harder than ought to be legal. Because the backtalking, yeah, that’s dreadful. The bickering amongst siblings, sure, that’s crazy-making. The leaving things all over the house, the eyerolling, the complaining, the whining—oh Lord, the whining!—these are terrible things, yes? But they pale in comparison to The Hurt You Can’t Fix.

And right now, Chickadee has a hurt we can’t fix. She is trying to speak up for herself, and she is trying to be brave, and yet she’s in a situation where she is not being heard. And it is breaking her heart.

It is breaking my heart.

She is the louder and more attention-demanding of my two children, and yet when it comes to claiming herself in this sort of way, she struggles. To watch her finally overcome that hurdle, to emerge with conviction and deliberateness, and then be ignored and pushed aside when she’s risked so much?

Painful doesn’t even begin to cover it.

There was a long talk last night, and all I could do was praise her for trying, implore her not to give up, encourage her to keep speaking up for herself until she is heard. “We’re listening,” I murmured into her hair, as she curled against me, leaking tears on my shoulder. “We hear you. We’ll keep listening. Don’t you stop talking. You are heard. WE HEAR YOU.”

As I lay in bed last night—unable to sleep, struggling to recover from my child’s pain—I tried to comfort myself with happier thoughts. Happier times. Times when I do and say the things that make it all better.

This past weekend, Chickadee managed to leave her hairbrush behind with her father. It’s not a big deal; we have other brushes, of course. But every day this week she has crept into my office first thing in the morning—in the dark, while I sit there checking my email—and asked to use the brush I keep in my purse.

I’m the sort of person who likes things in their place and order, and it would’ve been easy for me to harp on her (continually) about the misplacement of her own brush, but instead, every day this week, I’ve taken my cue from Larry the Cucumber.

So as I lay in bed, last night, I realized that what I needed to do, this morning, was get up and check my email, as usual, but also to hide our Flip under my desk so that I could record our exchange.

The Hairbrush Opera from woulda on Vimeo.

It’s a good way to start the day. It’s predictable, it never fails to make us laugh, and at the end I solve her dilemma. (Sort of. It doesn’t really offer a solution for the dilemma of your mother screeching off-key and waving her arms around at 6:00 in the morning, I’m afraid.)

After we finish laughing she hangs out in here with me while she combs the knots from her hair. Sometimes I help; sometimes she does it all herself. And then we have breakfast and finish getting ready for the day.

These are the things we’ll forget, her and me, without a little archiving help. And these are the things that CAN be forgotten, I suppose, without a problem. But I hope and pray she will always know and remember that no matter how silly we can be together, or how often we’ll butt heads over minutiae, that I am always, always listening.

I hear you, my girl. Always.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. This week, I wish you the kind of love that opens your ears, as well as your heart.


  1. Leandra

    I don’t have speakers on my computer so I cant WAIT to get home and listen to that. I would love to hear you do the Japanese version.

    Mir, there is no doubt that she will remember that you listened. I went through a very painful time in 4th grade and my mother was there for me. And I remember that and appreciate it so much. Chickie will too. I hope that things resolve themselves soon. Hugs to you and Chickie.

  2. susie

    Is it possible that I am actually the first to leave a comment? I have nothing to say, except I can’t believe I’m the first to leave a comment! That’s not true – it’s a tough lesson in life, when you spend so much of your childhood being told to USE YOUR WORDS and that the words are supposed to be enough. Then we have to learn that sometimes, our words just don’t work. But we have to keep using them just the same.

  3. Jennifer Suarez

    This is awesome, and it is the reason I blog too – so I will never forget all the little things.

    As far as “The Hurt You Can’t Fix”… I dread the day I have to cope with that with my daughters. I hope it gets better for your little one soon. (((hugs to her)))

  4. Lori

    Love it! (My daily lament is entitled “I am the only one who turns off lights!” I’ve been signing it for almost 3 years now & it never fails to bring shudders to my audience. Thank- you very much!)

    I dread the Hurt You Can’t Fix – I had a mini-preview during my daughter’s kindergarten/1st grade years and I am not sure my heart will survive it again. :(

  5. Caroline in MA

    The whining – OH! The. Whining! – I can’t stand it. Listening to it in the other room as I type…

    You are SUCH a good mom, Mir… I’m taking notes for when my four are a bit older. I don’t think that either one of you will forget about your Larry the Cucumber impersonation!

    Happy Love Thursday!

  6. Ani

    May the gods of patience and wisdom resolve your tough family situation in a logical manner soon.

    Big hugs for all in your household.

  7. dad

    Beautiful as always.
    I think we should lobby for one week per month to be all Thursdays.
    Cheers for more listening and better hearing.

  8. Megan

    I’ve also had a week or two of Hurts I Can’t Heal. Several weeks ago we just started walking together, my Hurting Child and I, and that time, where there is nothing in the world but the two of us, and nothing to do but listen and talk, has been priceless. That Child knows that I can’t Heal it – that there are some hurts that can’t be fixed and others that can only be helped by the person hurting – but it also knows that for at least one hour, every single day, I have nothing to do, nothing more important, than to be there and know about the Hurt.

    This post was beautiful – thanks.

  9. Laura

    That makes me think of “Opera Fish”. When my daughter is sick (which is pretty often) we play go fish, but you have to use a silly opera voice for the entire game. My husband and son just *love it*!

    I hope Chickadee is heard, and soon. Good for her for continuing to speak her truth in the face of voluntary deafness.

  10. Jen

    Ah. A perfect post. Beautiful.

  11. jennielynn

    You are so good at marking and treasuring these small moments.

  12. Half Assed Kitchen

    That’s probably the best we can do for our children, isn’t it? To listen.

    Keep up the good momming.

  13. Shalet

    You are a brave woman. If I sung on my blog no one would ever ever return! I do hope your daughter is heard and soon. Because kids are people too and deserve their feelings and their say.

    Having said that OMG I could do without the whining. Yesterday my daughter broke down after dance class because I was not armed with a snack. It didn’t seem to matter to her that I had just spent the last three hours shuttling kids from school to football to dance and back to football – all with a crabby four-year-old in tow. My eight-year-old bawled all the way home.

    God forbid I don’t fill my kids up with sugar just before dinner.

    You are a good Mom Mir! Keep up the good work.

  14. Katie

    I swear hair brushes have that ability to lose themselves just like socks.

    Good singing! If I tried that my kids would run and hide.

  15. hollygee

    I love Chickie’s little mumbles that I almost couldn’t make out until the last one.

  16. KD @ A Bit Squirrelly

    That really is so sweet. ((Hugs)) to your little one!

  17. mamalang

    Too funny that this is the subject of a blog post I started last week and hadn’t finished. Maybe today will be the day? Don’t hold your breath. Crying at work isn’t really such a great idea.

    I’m glad Chickie has you to listen. I think that is one of the greatest gifts we give our children, even when they won’t shut up :)

  18. Randi

    Awww! So sweet! What a good way to make what could be a sticky situation something fun for both of you.

  19. Sam

    My daughter is in 5th grade, and I know how much the hurt you can’t fix hurts me! I wish every child in the world was lucky enough to have someone to listen to them. Chickadee will always know you were there with an ear to listen and a shoulder to lean on. What worries me more is if/when they won’t want to talk to us in a few years!

    You are such a wonderful writer (and mother) Mir. I love reading your posts each day, but I REALLY love Thursdays!

  20. The Mom

    I hate that the things that hurt them are also the things that will help them. Every time our children work their way through a challenge, it prepares them for the bigger things to come. That being said, now that I’m going throug my bigger things, I still long for those Mama hugs that let you know you are never alone, even (and especially) in your hurt.

  21. bob

    Ever since I crossed that invisible divide between childhood and adulthood I can’t think of a single hurt I’ve suffered that compares to that which I’ve endured when our children were in pain. If only they’d suffered less for us having shared it.

  22. Libby

    Goodness it seems I am completely unable to read your Love Thursday’s posts without bawling. Every single week I am rendered a total mess. Anyway, this was such a good post. I am sorry things are hard and I hope better days are here soon.

  23. Headless Mom

    Very sweet. You will get through this, she will get through this. Maybe not easily, and maybe not for a while, but you will. And you’ll sigh a big sigh of relief.

    And sing the hairbrush song!

  24. Katie in MA

    She knows, Mir. Otherwise she wouldn’t be talking at all. I know you know that, but sometimes it helps to hear it from other people, too.

    You are BOTH doing a great job, listening and talking and trying again.

    Happy Love Thursday!

  25. Stefanie

    I always look forward to your Love Thursdays. This one made me tear up a little. You are a great mom for being there for Chickie, even just to listen.
    If/when I should become a mom, I hope to do even half as good a job as you. You are an amazing mother and an amazing role model.



    PS De-lurking is great. I discovered your blog maybe a month or so ago and have been conscientiously reading every post, albeit in reverse chronological order. I’m at October 2004 now. What a long way you’ve come from then! Amazing job, Mir! <3

  26. Lori

    Way to hit the high notes Mir! Chickadee is so lucky to have a mom who listens and can make her laugh.

  27. Chuck

    Very operatic, Mir. I suppose Monkey has Hair Issues also as long as it’s getting, but being a boy, he probably doesn’t care if it’s tangled. :) Hope everything works out well and Chickadee gets her hairbrush back soon.

  28. Steff

    Wow! I think the church choir misses you!!

  29. Vane

    Hi Mir.

    I hadn’t had a chance to stop by in a long time, I’m so sorry to read your family is going through a hard patch. I guess there must be something in the air cause mine isn’t doing that great either.

    You are a great mom and a person of incredible inner strength, I’m sure you’ll be alright and I’m sure your daughter will always know you are there for her.

    Big hugs to you all.

  30. Shannon

    I love your rendition of Larry the Cucumber!! I needed a laugh, and wow, did I get it. Thanks a whole lot for that!

  31. zandor

    That was so awesome.

  32. mojo

    We’ve dealt with the hurt that cannot be fixed with our oldest – since she was in kindergarten. Four schools later and grade 7 (this last switch was a week ago) and I think we’ve finally hit upon a decent solution. It’s never easy. But you’re listening and you’re letting Chickadee know you’re listening and that’s about all you can do. Hugs to you and your family for trying so hard to do it right.

  33. Jean

    This is so beautiful. I can only hope that someday I can be as wonderful a mother as you Mir.

    I can tell you, that having gone thru hurts in my life, and lots of pain as a child, the only comfort ever was knowing that my parents were there to love and support me, and to listen. THe memories of the pain have faded, but the ones of their love, patience, kindness and understanding have only grown stronger with time.

  34. Aimee

    NOW that’s what I call an opera. I love it! And you know what, Mir? She will remember that you heard her. Because I had a lot of really difficult times as a kid, and my mom always listened. And these days, even when she’s driving me crazy in other ways, I always, always remember that she listened.

  35. Fran

    Classic! I wish I had such a voice! Last night I couldn’t sleep either. This morning I read Philippians 4:4-13 and it helped. Three of mine are grown/gone…we’re down to one at home.

    Remember to focus on the positive. It sounds like you’re a great mom.

  36. annette

    I am a little worried you haven’t posted today….

  37. Casey

    She will always remember that you and Otto were steady rocks that she could count on – you have such a beautiful relationship with your kids! Good luck to Chickie. Ice Cream might help..?

  38. Flea

    You’re such a wonderful mom. Recording that is genius. It really will be okay with Chickie.

  39. Chris

    Beautiful Post!!! Warmed my heart! As per usual.

  40. karish

    oh, mir. i was in chickadee’s position years ago. it was quite possibly the most painful thing i have ever experienced, and all of it was related to race. One of my earliest memories is crying outside my room, in the hallway, in my father’s lap, as my parents explained to me how my skin color and the culture i experienced at home affected who i was able to identify with. i had no friends, simply b/c i was so culturally affected, and that was my parents’ Hurt They Couldn’t Fix. it was a horrible place for me to be, but it resolved. it did, and while i am still extremely, extremely Culturally Affected, it worked out. Everything does, even while it is horribly painful.

    You are a fantastic mother. Never forget that, that no matter however painful something is, that your child will remember how you dealt with it, and how you consoled them through their ordeal. Nothing else matters.

  41. Dayli

    I hope I can be to baby D the kind of mom that you are to Chikadee. That’s the kind of mom my mother was to me too.
    And I remember.

    Thanks for this post.

  42. Heather

    I like that Chickadee answered the question every single time. :)

    She’s lucky to have a mom who listens. I had hurts growing up that my mom couldn’t fix–I’m sure we all did–but just knowing she knew and cared meant so much.

  43. Rori Raye

    Oh, how totally lovely – what a wonderful mother you are. I’m thrilled when my (now 20 year old) daughter needs ANYTHING from me. I take it quickly as an opportunity to talk, to be helpful, to laugh over anything…it all goes so fast. Rori

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