This whole thing about the girl who listens. That girl. The one whom this blog was based. The one who currently has her mouth banded shut. For 22 hours a day. That girl. She’s a fraud. A fake. A lie. Because in the words of her mama, “she has not shut her flapping mouth.” Not since she was in the recovery room. Not since she was rolled into her hospital room. Not since she was wired for five days. Not once. And you know what. That girl is me.
Don’t believe me? There’s this. Me. Wired shut. On morphine. Just hours after open joint TMJ surgery.
I think it’s time we define this word listen. Because really. My mama. Who I actually prefer to call Marge. Most of us do. I love Marge. But how can she say I won’t shut my flapping mouth when I can’t even open my flapping mouth. Well I can. Five times a day. But that’s only for like 30 minutes. So I can do my therapy. And swallow food. But I can barely open three inches. So enough with that flapping mouth, Marge.
And another thing. Before we move ahead with defining. I need to defend myself. I want to defend myself. People can understand me. Like legit understand me. In person. Phone, not so much. Via FaceTime though. Absolutely. So I talk. Except there was this chiropractor. She kept saying, “um what, I can’t understand you. We’ll talk about that later.” And then we never did. But she did ask me to bring in all my vitamins at the next visit. And I felt like saying, “um, what? I don’t understand you. I thought I was here for you to work on my C1.” But I didn’t. Shook her hand instead. Smiled. Left with orders to get X-rays. And planned to never return.
According to Merriam-Webster, the archaic version of listen means “to give hear to.” Of course it does. But 2017 is not archaic. It’s now. It’s present. Like us. And so while more modern definitions still hold true to those of the past, listen has taken on other meanings. For example, “to pay attention to sound” or “to be alert to catch an expected sound.” But you see, there’s this other definition. The one that makes the most sense to me. It goes something like this: “to hear something with thoughtful attention: give consideration.” And flapping mouth or not. That’s my version of listening. I’m paying attention. And giving consideration. To just about everything.
My girl and I set out on an adventure the other day. Three mile bike ride to the pool. Not quite three weeks post-surgery. Because I’ll be damned if I lose at recovery. Even if it means it nearly kills me. Which it almost did. Which I realized about 300 feet in. We made at least 17 stops along the way. Some for her. Most for me. On one stop I noticed her helmet was nearly falling off the back of her head. “Mama needs to fix your helmet, babe,” I say nicely. Sigh. Huff. Puff. Maybe even an eye roll. My girl despises wearing a helmet. Especially properly. The strap pinches her, she says. And I’m not gonna lie. Words came out. Those mommy threats. Like – do you want mama to get arrested? And what if you fall and hit your head? Do you want brain damage? I tighten the straps. I’m irritated. My jaw hurts. My kid is pissy. And we still have 2 miles to go.
Helmet back on. “Ouch,” she yells, “it pinched me!” It did not pinch her. Now there are tears. Drama. “Get back on your bike! We’re going to the pool,” I say in the most joyful manner I can muster. I swear it was no more than five minutes later. A wipeout. Not me. Her. And I promise you I swore under my breath. I rolled my eyes. I was so frustrated. Can we just get to the damn pool? But you know what. Something changed in almost an instant. All these lessons flashed through my mind. In a nanosecond. Have you ever had an experience like that? Maybe it’s just me. Cause I’m crazy. But that exact thing happened. I remembered my own words. About falling off bikes. And everything in my mind changed. Every bit. Suddenly I wasn’t trying to get to the pool. Or frustrated. Or tired. Or impatient. I was present. In the moment. And mindful that my kid needed me. I jumped off my bike. Took off her helmet. And y’all. Right there in the middle of her neck. A red spot. Clearly a pinch. The girl who listens. Literally not listening at all.
There was no obvious damage from her crash. In fact, all I could find was a little dirt. I took out some wipes. Cause I’m better prepared now with this closure. That’s a bonus. I wiped her knees. And hands. And tears. In my mind, I went back to my story of falling off bikes. I remembered lime green shirt. The lady who I’ve never met. But taught me so much about falling off bikes. And life. Waiting it out. Listening for when it was time to get back up again. So I refrained from telling my girl to brush it off. And get back on. Even though I kinda wanted to. After all. We still had over a mile to go. And it was about 145 degrees. In the 700% humidity of a Florida summer day.
Instead I waited. For dried tears. For slower breaths. And I asked her if she remembered seeing a guy fall off his bike months ago. She didn’t. She still wasn’t ready. So I told her we’d wait it out. Until she was ready. That I would listen for her cue. And after a few minutes of her trying to figure out how she fell. Because she’s overly analytical. Just like her mama. And I love it. She said, “I remember that boy, mama. You wrote about him. And that lady.” She did remember. So we talked about falling off bikes. And how important it was to wait until we’re ready to try again. “I’m ready,” she said. So we suited back up. Helmet on. No pinches. And we took off. To the pool. To our destination. Without a single other stop.
I might still be talking. But see. I’m listening. Or at least trying to. In the way of paying attention. Giving consideration. To experiences. To my own words. To my body. To my heart. To life lessons. To God. To struggles. To successes. To heartaches. To joys. To others. To everything. Even when I falter a bit. I’m a little over four weeks closed. And I feel myself quieting. Reflecting. Talking less. Listening more. My family would totally debunk that statement. But I promise you. There are so many words in my head that go unsaid. And that’s a huge success for me. Because trust me. It does not come without frustration.
And you know what else. My girl and I made it to the pool that day. And back home. Barely. But we did. Mostly because we listened to Maren Morris all the way home. But also because I am The Girl Who Listens. And whether it be music, people, God, or life itself. It’s how I’ll make it through this closure. It’s how I’ll learn to shut this flapping mouth. And it’s how I plan to live the rest of my days. Trying. Stumbling. Succeeding. And listening.