Learn To Lean In – The Observer

Fishing For A Good Cause
January 1, 2023
100 New Years Ago – Under The Scope
January 1, 2023
Fishing For A Good Cause
January 1, 2023
100 New Years Ago – Under The Scope
January 1, 2023

I wrote these words seven years ago. The nine year old is now 16. He has a license. He got in his first fender bender. Time has flown, and I didn’t expect it to, even though everyone said it would. 

But for everyone out there with someone to love, make this the year that you take time to listen. Take time to care. Take time to share their space. Lean in because the long days fade into short years. 

From a mom of all teenagers, listen to the words of this same mom when they were all younger, shorter and just a little more carefree. 

From 2015:

Tonight, I lay down with my middle son. He’s right smack in the middle of our family. Two in front of him and two behind him. The truest middle child if there ever was one. 

When he went to bed, he asked if I would lay with him for “just a few minutes.” It’s his usual request, one I can’t grant every night. He followed it with, “I want to talk with you.” 

And that’s where he had me. With the “I want to talk” line. I’ll lie there all night if you’ll talk to me, son. If you’ll tell me more than two sentences about your day, if you’ll tell me why you were so angry earlier, if you’ll tell me what it feel like to be nine with your whole life in front of you. 

Because honestly, I can’t remember what it feels like to be nine. I don’t even know that I can remember more than one or two events from that entire year of my life. 

So I lay down with him for a few minutes in the bottom bunk bed, as he told me of the book he was reading, his soccer practice, and why his sisters aggravate him so much. 

Nothing important, but it was his world. And I felt honored to be a part for the few minutes I lay there, listening. 

Our day together hadn’t been smooth. 

It was one of our hardest in a while. But somehow, his stories at the end made everything seem a little better. And maybe he really wanted me to lay down and listen all day long. Maybe his anger from earlier was his nine-year-old way of saying “Pay attention to me. Make me your world. Can we pretend like we don’t have anything to do or anywhere to go?” 

Time stands still at the bottom of a bunk bed. 

We lay side by side, looking at the underneath of the top bunk. He’s asleep now, and I wish I could go back and listen again. I’m so afraid that it’ll all be gone before I know it, and I’ll lie there by myself, wishing I could hear him talk about his day just one more time. 

Our day had been filled mostly with me talking. Lecturing. Threatening. 

But when I lay side by side with him, we’re equal. One heart listening while the other heart talks. The years between us fade, and I can almost imagine being in third grade again. When he tells me about his broken lead pencil, I get it. When you’re in third grade, a broken lead pencil is the worst. 

He finishes talking, and waits. I don’t really have anything to say that seems to matter. 

I want to whisper into his heart. I have nothing to say, yet everything. 

When does a boy stop asking his mamma to lay with him for a few minutes to talk?

So many things they tell you are important wind up not being as important as they said. 

No one told me my greatest moments would have nothing to do with grades, scholarships, achievements, job positions, or success. 

The moments I wish I could go back and relive are these. I would do anything to go back just a few hours in time and lay there again. Hear one more broken lead pencil story. 

I want to tell him to spend time with the people he loves. I want to tell him that good grades are good, but gratitude is better. Scoring goals is great, but helping an opponent up will really make you a winner. Be kinder than you think you need to be. 

But I don’t say anything. Instead, we both just stare at the underneath of his brother’s bunk bed for a while. 

Maybe silence sometimes communicates more than our millions of words ever will. Because he looked at me, and smiled. 

“It was a good day, wasn’t it, mom?”

“Why yes. Yes it was.”