Birdwatching with Bella

2012-05-22 18.12.01

Photo Jan 28, 2 47 03 PM

One way I struggle as a mother is connecting with my children. Bella is particularly challenging for me as she is  my little clone. She tends to be very long-winded and extremely needy in that auditory department. Like me, she is an over-sharer.

It is especially challenging for an over-sharer mom who also happens to be a crappy listener to connect with her child who over-shares and doesn’t listen. You can see how that doesn’t work. “Mom, listen to me.” “No Bella, you listen to me!” We go round and round in circles, neither listening and neither caring about what they other has to say.

I would dare say this problem with Bella is my most challenging as a mom, but then 50 more problems that are currently going unnoticed will abruptly come to my attention. So, let’s just say this is one of my hardest challenges.

But,people, I am here to happily report that I  made a breakthrough this past week. It was so huge that I called my husband at work and explained it through my tears of joy and gratitude. Maybe my “inloveathome” experiment will actually work after all, a little teeny change at a time?

So, what happened? Let me explain by oversharing. Bear with me.

One of our family traditions is taking a walk around the neighborhood after Sunday dinners. The past two weeks, we happened by our neighbor Sue’s house right as she was settling in to watch the hummingbirds feed for the night. The whole family stopped to chat but both times as the rest of the family went on home, Bella and I settled in to join Sue on her porch. I was delighted to see that Bella loved Sue’s bird sanctuary as much as me. Bella didn’t know it, but I have spent many moments alone in the past with Sue on her porch watching the birds. Bella seemed to fit right in with Sue and I, watching intently, enjoying the quiet, and discussing hummingbirds. We discovered that we all had many questions that needed to be answered about the hummingbirds. Sue suggested we look up the hummingbird mating flight patterns online. Unbeknownst to Sue, with one small sentence, she was an answer to my many many prayers.

The next day, as I arrived home after a long day of errands, Bella approached me while I was folding laundry. She had two papers covered with her own handwriting front and back. She informed me that she had been doing some research about hummingbirds all morning. As Bella proceeded to share what she had written I found that I was completely enthralled. I didn’t want to miss a word of what she had to share. It was as great of interest to me as it was to her and I was able to easily listen as she shared. She was providing a service to me by answering the questions I had voiced the day before. In the moment I felt a great love and appreciation for my Bella in a way I had never experienced before. I loved her for a part of her that has always made me batty. She was over-sharing in a way that I respected. Like me and her dad, Bella showed a great propensity for research. Like me and her dad, Bella showed her love for teaching. I was dumbfounded: what a little miracle she is! And to think that I had never taken the time to notice before? I was ashamed. As soon as Bella left the laundry room, I said a prayer thanking God for making this moment happen. It changed me. It made me into a better mother.

Here is a video of Sue and I enjoying a bluejay on her porch over a year ago.  I treasure this small video file for reasons only known to Sue and I. I don’t want to air Sue’s laundry to the internet, but she has experienced two extreme challenges in just a year’s time. At one point I remember writing her a letter while at church: through heavy heavy tears I told her I looked forward to many more excursions on her porch, even though I was 90% sure it was never going to happen. God is good. Miracles abound. I am so grateful for Sue and the time I have spent with her in her piece of heaven called her front-porch. Without Sue I don’t know if I would have ever had this major breakthrough with one of my hardest parenting challenges.