Small Success Thursday: Silence and Words


Small Success Thursday

This week I was lectured by a professional over the phone. I happened to be in the same field but the person felt quite sure I should only listen. I disciplined myself to do so. I didn’t agree with a lot said, but I did feel a sudden surge of sympathy for my teenagers who put up with my lecturing when they don’t agree. How hard it is to listen all the time, none of us love that unless we love the person we are listening too, or the subject we’re learning about. Yet I know I demand so often of my own children, that they listen listen listen while I talk talk talk. God is in the whispering, which I can’t hear when I’ve got my own agenda to advance.

So when my daughter called home and said she was sick, I heard it. When my son looked dejected because he’d run poorly, and lost his iphone, I didn’t lose it. When my three year old began to get screechy, I looked at the clock and realized, she needed to eat. These were moments which absent the grace of listening, would have been power struggles or moments of great frustration for them and me. I know it, because I know I’ve been that person over the phone in real life to my own children when allowed to give full reign to my mouth on a given topic.

Thankfully, God isn’t interested only in silence from me. He knows I’d explode without words.

This school year, the kids would take the school bus. To ease their nervousness about a new school and new routine, I sang to them the first day, just stupid songs, anything I could remember from camp in sixth grade. Mercifully, no one driving by or taking a morning walk complained about the yowling and demanded I be put out of their misery for brutalizing such classics as the Wheels on the Bus, Bear Hunt, On Top of Spaghetti and There Was an Old Woman. What I didn’t know, was I’d started a tradition. The next day, they wanted the same songs while we waited for the bus. Now each have favorites they request. And in that moment, they listen. It is like bedtime stories at night. They stop. They listen. What I have to remember, is all the rest of the time, is my time to stop and listen.

Every time I remember which time it is, and what I should be doing, it is a small success.

This week’s small successes include:

1) continuing the runner’s club with two of my girls.
2) cooking home cooked meals when it was really tempting to punt and order pizza.
3) having a screen free day Sunday with my family. It was a real Sunday, and though we did lots –painted the outside trim, folded clothes, made dinner, played games, cleaned the house a bit, it felt…stiller, less stressful, as if the whole day were a mass.

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Copyright 2014, Sherry Antonetti


About Author

Sherry Antonetti is a mother of ten children, published author of The Book of Helen and a freelance writer of humor and family life columns. You can read additional pieces from her blog,


  1. That Listening is so hard. I am trying hard to work on that with my 14 YO. But when I notice that he forgot some important papers I had asked him if he had packed up the night before, I was furious that he had blown me off. Good luck.

    • That happens to me with my 15 year old ALL the time. It’s maddening. What I keep trying (and don’t always succeed in doing) is to remind him, I’m an ally. I only tell him to do this because I have the wisdom of past experience both with my own disorganization, and with his. It doesn’t always work, but I’ve taken to leaving little post-its. DON’T FORGET to…blah blah blah. I add a smiley face. It allows me to remind without lecturing. I put them in different prominent spots. The bathroom mirror. His pillow. On top of his Kindle. On the front of his bedroom door. On the wall. It makes it funny and it helps him pay attention. (Sometimes).

    • The refrain in my house (all my kids will tell you): “It’s not done if it isn’t packed!”
      They eventually get it. Some kids take longer than others.

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