Crazy Rhythms

April 27, 2012

The last of Five for Five.  Today, on Listening.


I listened all week. To various complaints, reasonable and unreasonable, I gave my patient, most understanding ear.  I listened to my middle school students, when they asked — nicely or not — if they could do this particular thing or hand in that particular assignment a day late.  I listened to requests that I buy this particular gift for the birthday party Abigail is going to, and that I let Grace wear this particular dress to the fancy party she is going to tonight.  I listened to DH as we lay together, heads close on the pillow.  He needs a good listen like I need coffee in the mornings, and that’s what I do.  I listen.

To listen in this way requires me to shove my oversize ego out of the way for just a little bit and look for the need within the words I hear.  Sometimes listening doesn’t even require words.  When Abigail dropped her ice cream cone on the ground the other day, I just passed mine to her without thinking about it.  I heard the need; I gave what I had.

I listened all week not just to what they asked of me, but also to the real needs behind their words. This is my job as a mom, as a teacher, and as a wife.  And when it comes to listening, despite all my fretting to the contrary (see below, pretty much this whole blog) I’m damn good at being all three.

But, there’s a but.

And it’s this: boy am I glad that my kids are old enough that I get back some of my old self now and then.

Because tonight?  Tonight I listen to what I want to hear.  With Grace at the party, a good friend bringing her home, and Abby at a sleepover, I have no responsibilities to my students or anyone at all.  Tonight Bill and I will stand in a darkened hall and listen to The Feelies — our favorite band since way back when we were brand-new dating. When we are listening, we will be back on the cusp of our teens and our twenties, Crazy Rhythms coursing through our veins.  The Feelies play serious rock, seriously.  The band members all look as though they are somewhere on the Autism Spectrum, and render each one of their old songs perfectly note-for-note, as though to a metronome.  They play blistering rock, yet appear for all the world like a bunch of nerds: an accountant, a librarian, a space alien, an aging headmaster and somebody’s nutso uncle.  They do not smile or talk to the audience.  But their music still stirs me in the craziest ways.

I listened all week, for all of the people in my life.  But tonight I will listen with all my heart, just for me.  I’ll likely be one of the youngest people in the house, not just the middle aged middle-school teacher I am in the middle of the week.

Tonight I will listen to the Feelies, and feel.  I will dance like the happiest person in the world.  I will hear the past beating in the present.  And for a moment in this midlife of mine, I will be listening only to me.

Justine April 28, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I know exactly what this feels like. I love going to live shows but alas, with two little ones, we’ve not been going to them as often as we like but when we do, it’s amazing being there, feeling so adult and so kid-like all at once.

Jen @ Momalom April 29, 2012 at 8:44 am

Oh, I adore this. I see you. I see myself. I see it all. I wish I could leave you a better comment right now (there’s three-kid chaos in the next room), but please know that I read this and it resonates with me in wonderful ways. I am just beginning to really get some of that time for myself to listen back. And it is a gift greater than silence sometimes!

Kate April 30, 2012 at 11:05 pm

With a new little one in my arms (literally), I am always, always listening. To her breath. To her sisters – is someone hurt? Are they ok? To my husband. Last week I had a few hours with just the baby. The silence of just our breath was the most free I’ve felt in a long time. But
I long for the time when I can listen for me, to me, again.

Launa May 1, 2012 at 6:05 am

So beautiful, this sound you hear. It’s crushing, but beautiful, isn’t it?

Kate May 2, 2012 at 10:44 pm

It is the softest and heaviest sound. Beautiful.

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