As far back as I can remember, people have told me that I talk too much. Teachers, classmates, friends… You name it.
I earned many nicknames during my school years as a result- Motor Mouth, Chatty Kathy (my name is actually Katy, but thanks), and Social Butterfly, being a few. Growing up, I was asked regularly if I had ADD (which is ridiculous and insensitive!).
I was “social” to put it mildly. My teacher could move me wherever she wanted, I would still find a way to talk to everyone around me.
“Do you ever shut up?!”
Opinions or chit chat. I always had something to say.
I will never forget one day in sixth grade a substitute teacher asked if I “forgot to take my meds” that morning. (Talk about inappropriate!)
Over time, it wore me down.
It hurt my feelings on so many levels.
But there was one person who never, ever, not even once, told me I talked too much.
I could get in the car when she picked me up from school and talk non stop on the 20 minute ride home until we walked into our house. I would tell her every detail of my day. I would just dump my thoughts.
She was my safe place. Never judging me or telling me to be quiet.
Fights with friends, plans we made, boys I liked, how my classes went, how lunch went, and when could we go shopping? She heard it all, and she would give her opinion if she felt like it, but most of the time she just listened.
And man, did I babble on… and on… and on…
As I got older those pointless venting sessions full of random thoughts were eventually sprinkled with important little tidbits.
A rumor I heard, something a boy said about me, my first kiss, an idea that I had to take a road trip with some friends, sleeping at a new friend’s house, things that happened at a party, “hooking up” with a boy (which in the early 2000’s meant something different than it does now)- all things that would make my mom perk her ears up.
These were the tidbits she had been waiting patiently for… for years.
She took every opportunity to guide me- sometimes gently, sometimes a full shove.
“No you won’t be driving to Texas with two friends for a concert, because you are 15 and your friend has had her license for 3 months. Let’s talk about it again when you’re in college.”
“He sounds like a nice boy, but I think he might be too old for you…”
*He’s so cute though, but you’re probably right….*
“So, when you say “hook up” what exactly do you mean?”
*I jabber on for 10 minutes about how it means that my best friend will give him a note that asks if he likes me and if he says yes then she will come tell me and then we will decide what we are going to do Friday night, which everyone is going to the football game so we will probably just go with all of our friends. Basically a mutual friend is “setting us up” hence, hooking up.*
*Mom breathes audible sigh of relief*
Fast Forward 20 Years
I am now 35, married to a wonderful man for almost 13 years, and we are raising our five daughters.
(But stay tuned because Baby #6 is due in August!)
My daughters are incredible combinations of girly girls and tom-boys. They love make up and jewelry and getting dressed up, but they are also always outside, digging in mud for bugs and worms, climbing trees, and crawling through the yard.
Among the five, there are softball players, dancers, aspiring paleontologists and veterinarians, and one in particular who befriends every single worm she has ever met.
There are a lot of interests in my house. Lots of studying rocks that my paleontologist is convinced are fossils. Lots of discussing dreams and conversations my middle schoolers have. Lots and lots of very long winded ideas and plans (they get it from their mama).
Its all lovely, but its exhausting. Some days I go to bed with my ears ringing. I wake up almost every morning nose to nose with a child requesting detailed plans for the day. We listen to dreams from the night before that go on for what seems like hours.
If I am looking at my phone, I make it a point to put it down and look at them while they are talking. No matter how pointless the conversation seems.
If I am talking to them and another interrupts I make it a point to say “I want to hear what you have to say, but please just wait one minute.”
Even though it is hard, really hard, I will never, ever tell them to stop talking.
As maddening as it is some days, it doesn’t matter.
Because one day, they will want to say something that does matter.
And I will wish I had been listening all along.
I grew up to be an opinionated woman. (Those who know me will laugh at that!) I will never apologize for speaking my mind. I was raised to believe that my voice, words and opinions matter. I want my daughters to know that no matter how many people try to hush them, they can always talk to me. I will never tell them to stop talking.
Because their words matter.