“If You Jump to Conclusions, You Make Terrible Landings.” Terry McMillan

I’m working to be a better son. And one of the ways I’m trying to do it is just to shut up and listen to my mom. It is really hard. I can’t help but jump in and give advice. Inevitably it leads to fights. I’m sure we can all relate.

I love my mom and my biggest regret would be if I didn’t get to know her as a woman, as a mother, as a sister and as a human being. Last week I took my mother on a beautiful, belated birthday outing. She wanted to go on a train ride. So we took the train to Waterloo and then we went to St. Jacob’s farmer’s market. My goal was don’t get into an argument. Not a lofty goal but still difficult.

We were traveling in the first class car to Waterloo – only the best for my mom. Everything went well. The train ride there was great, we had a good time at the market and on the way there we had a great conversation. My mom opened up about her past, what she saw, what she experienced and how she grew up. It was amazing. She shared so much.

As we were traveling back (obviously first class again), I wanted to help my mom. She had shared so much and I wanted to give back. Her quality of life could improve and I wanted to be the one to inspire her. Everyone wants the best for the ones we love right? So I proceeded to tell her essentially that her friends aren’t good enough for her.

I believed I was being subtle and suave. I started by asking her who she hung out with. She listed her friends and what she does with them. I was encouraging but went on. “Yeah that’s great but you don’t really have open-hearted conversations with any of them do you?”

My mother looked up at me, paused and like the graceful angel she is said “Well I do have open-hearted conversations with you Aleks, and with your brother and your cousin. I have people.”

I wasn’t listening. I said that family doesn’t count and that I wanted her to have lots of people to talk to, to share those open-hearted conversations. I said, “You know what, I have someone I want to introduce to you to. I think they’ll be great for you. I think they are a way better fit for you.”

It was at this point that I heard a gasp and a man say “Ohh.” I turned around and noticed there was a couple sitting a few rows down. I looked over a little confused…why did he gasp?

I looked at my mom and understood. She was furious. She began calmly but then her temper rose, as did her voice.

“How dare you? You’re just a kid and you’re telling me how I should live my life?”  All the things we all think when someone we love is judging us, my mom said to me.

At that moment, I thought I was right. As she was telling me all these things, I wasn’t really listening and was just thinking why she is so mad? I just want my mom to be happy. She is being so selfish. That’s what I thought at first.

And then I realized. I interrupted. “Mom, I’m sorry.”

She leaned back, paused and said, “Ok, for what?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t make you feel like you belong. I wear it on my shirt, it’s tattooed on my wrist. But I did a really bad job right now because at the core belonging for me is someone who makes the effort to understand and I gave you zero understanding and only judgment. The way I can help is by living a great life, for you to see it. If there is anything useful, you will be inspired. But I should have just listened. I’m sorry I didn’t.”

Immediately, my mom took the high road, smiled and said “Listen, none of this really bothers me. You’re my son, you’re still a kid. You’re still learning.”

I wanted to correct her because she was definitely mad. But you know with family, especially parents, you take your wins where you can. So I just smiled and got up and hugged her. I spent the whole day without a single fight. A mom and her son having a great time.

When I reflected on the day, I realized most people are bothered that their friends and loved ones don’t listen. Not that they don’t do enough for them. That’s what we need most. For someone to listen. I don’t know about you but I sometimes feel that listening isn’t enough. In reality, listening is more than enough. If we take the time to listen, we can actually hear what the person needs and wants.

So this week try jumping to conclusions less and listening more.

Need more reminders about listening and serving others read Oui vs. Me.

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