I am a verbal processor. Ask any of our friends, and they will tell you that as I read or think about life, I need to talk out my ideas. Especially if I’m on the verge of shifting my thinking about something, I need to work through it with others. Frank, who is more of an internal processor, deals with the brunt of my questions, rants, and opinions and has – for the most part – learned that this is how I best learn.

One of the hardest things for me about being a mom is feeling heard. Bea is absolutely adorable but I need to feel important, too. It’s been tough – that balance of quality time before bedtime and learning to honor each of our needs and personalities.

Honoring the need for quality time with a zoo-selfie
Honoring the need for quality time with a zoo-selfie

When Frank comes in, he swings Bea up in the air and asks her about the adventures of the day. Usually, he’s home between 5:30 and 6:00 and with bedtime at 7:30, he needs to pack in the playtime, the snuggles and reading, and the memories he’s missed while at work. Bea adores this time together, showing off, laughing, luring him with just one more book… At our best, I have dinner ready and put aside dishes and cleaning up and we enjoy this time as a family.

Last week, in a not-best moment, I had just finished Lean In and was excitedly telling Frank what I had learned, questions I had, and the feeling of empowerment the book had given me. He was engaged at first, but I saw a familiar glaze in his eye as Bea ran across the yard, gardening tools in hand, stealing her dad’s attention. Later that evening, we talked about days with a two-year-old and how I’ve been reading more nonfiction the past couple years, trying to keep learning, to take advantage of this time at home. We talked about how, after discussing the nuances of Madeline and Daniel Tiger all day, I needed to talk with an adult, to have someone respond.

From the three book clubs I’m actively part of to my dreams of a next career to listening as I recount every amazing part of my most recent book, Frank honors my need for learning and connectivity. In order for me to feel excited, to feel like I’ve truly learned something, I need to share it.

I’m learning to honor his time as a working dad, too. I recognize the fact that he would much rather be home playing with us than on endless calls to the IRS, fixing other people’s problems. I also totally understand those precious minutes between walking in the front door and bedtime – minutes needed to establish trust and memories. Minutes he uses to honor his daughter’s need for attention from her dad.

As we shift and continue to figure out life as a family of three, I see how much adaptability is needed as we balance and honor each person’s needs. The core needs of being heard, of feeling loved, of squeezing in time together are important to all of us. As we recognize and acknowledge those core values, it seems easier to balance that time of play and listening and processing so that, more often than not, they weave together rather than stand alone.

How do you feel heard? What are some ways your family balances connecting with each personality type?

Linked with SheLoves Magazine’s monthly theme: Honour.