I SEE YOU
If you're anything like me, Facebook can be a bit of a time suck...but, it can also be a good resource, connecting me to information and conversations I might not otherwise be exposed to. The ratio might be eight silly viral videos/useless quizzes to every one meaningful article, but when I stumble on a gem, it seems worth it. (Or at least that's what I tell myself...) A few weeks ago a friend posted a quote that got me thinking, and I knew immediately I wanted to share it here:
"During the first months I lived in South Africa, I kept making a particular social gaffe. I would be walking on the street, trying to find an address, and I would stop someone and say, trying to be polite and get to the point, 'Excuse me. Can you please tell me how to get to such-and-such a place?' Every time I did this, the person I had stopped would look at me in shock. Eventually, an older black man confronted me. He looked me straight in the eye and said, 'Hello! How are you!?' When I told this story to Dorothy, she explained that most South Africans consider it rude to approach someone and immediately launch into business. First you must greet them and ask after their well-being and the well-being of their family. In Zulu, the conventional greeting is 'Sawu bona;' which means 'I see you.' We cannot interact properly with others unless we see them as fellow humans."
-Adam Kahane "Solving Tough Problems"
Maybe it's because I'm deep in the world of parenting little ones, or because I write often on the topic of motherhood, but I couldn't help but connect this idea to my kids. I was convicted of my own actions...How often do I launch into business with my kids?
"Wake up! Let's get dressed! Time for breakfast! Hurry up...we need to leave soon. Wash your hands, wipe your face, brush your teeth, please. Where are your shoes? Get your shoes! Are your shoes on? HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU TO GO PICK OUT SHOES?! I will leave without you!" (Anyone else identify with the shoe struggle?)
In the busyness of every day life, there is so much stuff to get done that I often forget the need for each of my children to simply be seen.
When discussing our marriage, my husband and I often (half-jokingly) quote the Parenthood line: "I hear you and I see you". We say it slightly tongue in cheek, but truly we know how important it is for each of us to feel understood -- heard and seen -- in the relationship. But I'm ashamed to say I don't always approach my relationships with the kids the same way. Honestly, I often fail to see them as "fellow humans". Yes, they're children, who need to learn to listen, follow directions, and get their dang shoes on already! But beyond that, they're people, and they're worthy of being truly seen.
Life with kids can be wild, and trust me, there's never a time when my kids can't be heard, but in the midst of the chaos, I want to try to see them more. I want to approach them with a Sawu bona sentiment; to force myself to slow down and care for their well-being first and the to-doing, second.