It recently hit me. The realisation that I sometimes act like a military mum at home.
Vera, pick up your toys!
Vera, brush your teeth!
Vera, go to sleep now!
Hup, two, three, four, hup!
I sometimes secretly wish I could get her to drop 10 for me. Ahh, the unspoken thrills of a military mum.
I know I sound a bit smug, to think that I can wield this sort of power over my child. But guess what… I think I actually stop communicating with her when I go into this mode. I can even see her eyes glazing over, or switching attention to something else (anything for that matter). She may after some minutes comply with the instruction, but mostly when she catches mummy’s signature I-mean-business look.
But what do I mean when I say I stop communicating?
A close friend of mine recently shared with me what she picked up from a communications course. She shared that most of us are used to communicating as a means to an end — what we call task-oriented communication — as part and parcel of the busy lives we have grown accustomed to.
In the process of seeing communication as a means to get things done, we forget that communication, at its most basic, is all about loving and building relationships.
Particularly so in the home, and with our kids. If we only communicate when we need them to do something, and neglect that part of communication that is love-originated, and love-focused, can you imagine how our relationship with our children will be like?
Don’t get me wrong, I know rules and regulations have their place, that our kids need to learn obedience and to take on greater amounts of responsibilities as they grow. But in the midst of that, perhaps it’s good to call time-out everyday — just to love and to communicate out of that love.
No strings attached.
Unconditional love. Unconditional communication. Essentially, communication that is centred on the other person — my child. And usually, no words are required. More like a hug. Or two. Or just sitting beside her, watching her draw or fix a puzzle. That’s all I really need to do. The challenge is to be fully present, and I mean hundred percent, not multi-tasking or trying to reply whatsapp messages at the same time.
It’s hard, I know. Every fibre of my being screams out “I need to do ____ now, I can’t just sit here and not do anything!”
But it can be done. If we intentionally set aside time and energy to be fully available. It could even start with a few simple minutes a day, at a time when you feel most relaxed and unencumbered by your to-do list.
I don’t know about you, but the next time I’m tempted to do the military mum thing, I will come back to this quote.