This week in my listening partnership I worked on my anger and frustration that was triggered when my daughter (3 1/2) did not give me space to talk on the phone. Whenever I took a call, she would whine and start to draw on furniture and throw things off the tables. Normally, I would move in and address this sort of behavior immediately, however, I really wanted to talk on the phone and I didn't want to stop my conversation to parent!
It wasn't until I decided to look at this issue in a listening partnership that I realised the issue was so much more. When I started to express my anger about her behavior and my frustration at not being able to talk on the phone in peace, I had quite a strong reaction. My listening partner asked if my daughter reminded me of someone in the past, I thought for a moment and then had a direct flash back to primary school when my sister (4 years younger than me) started school. She followed me around the schoolyard every playtime. I found this very difficult because school was the only place that I had had my space. At home I already felt invaded by my sister.
I found this invasion feeling was the exact feeling I had when Zoe would be disruptive when I talked on the phone. I had been paralysed by this association (without knowing it was there) and wasn't able to think clearly or even acknowledge the issue I was having when talking on the phone. When I made the association I cried. I'm not even sure what I was crying about, but it was grief of some sort.
And then I could think a little more clearly about the phone saga. What were Zoe's needs when I got on the phone? Often we are in the middle of doing something when the phone rings and I stop abruptly what we are doing. Zoe can't hear what is being said, all she knows is that I am stopping what I am doing with her to do something else. No wonder she is feeling annoyed and frustrated. I hadn’t asked her about her experiences in regards to the telephone or outlined my expectations of what I would like when I am on the phone. I could also discuss with her options she would like to do when this happens. Maybe she might like a “mommy's on the phone” basket of things to do when interrupted.
After being listened to I feel like my intelligence and creativity are flowing again. Thanks Listening Partnerships.
– a mom in Australia