It is a strange irony that in the month that I set myself the goal of listening, my voice decided to vanish.
The universe seemed to be conspiring against me at first, as I struggled against the constraints of parenting without volume. I resorted to clicking my fingers rapidly, clapping in rising urgency as the meagre tones I had were lost amidst the clashes of will, the demonstrations of defiance, the explosions of emotion. I noticed at first how many times I was prone to lecture, to deliver a treatise on behavioural expectations when it wasn’t a strain to lift my voice.
This month of enforced listening has taught me a number of lessons…
1. I’m Prone to Interrupting
I’ve noticed recently that in my enthusiastic haste to offer empathy or connect, I jump in too quickly – commiserating, predicting, chiming a heartfelt ‘me too!’. I disrupt the flow of the conversation because I simply cannot wait. That urge to talk becomes more noticeable when I’m calculating how many words I should utter for the day.
2. The Magic Law of Disputes
It turns out that fights often peter out by themselves. That urge I feel to jump in, to solve and to designate boundaries… sometimes all the kids need is a little space to make good out of messy – to reestablish roles by themselves. Of course, then there are the times where all hell breaks loose because you left it that bit too long to intervene… If only I had some way of divining which situation we are dealing with before it is too late.
3. A Lack of Words Can Lead to New Skills
I’m developing quite the skill in building Duplo towers. Apparently when I was little I showed scant interest in such endeavours, but motherhood has provided the second wind for an unrealised skill. I wonder if I could put it on my resume one day? Now I just need to learn to detach when one of the kids accidentally knocks over the four storey castle that I built for
4. Cracking it With No Voice Sounds Ridiculous
I never used to yell. I considered myself a calm, reasonable person and a patient mother… until my kids reached the toddler stage and what was previously non-existent became far too prevalent. Motherhood also unleashed in me a whole new vocabulary of passionate words that just seemed so fitting for those situations where normal phrases deserted me – like deliberately up-ended bowls of weet-bix or tantrums thrown at very inconvenient moments. I’m not proud of this developed trait, and I do hope to reach the status of ‘zen mother’ one day, but for now I can at least laugh at myself in the moment when my hoarse voice attempts to echo frustrated diatribes that previously flowed so easily. (I’m sure my kids are hoping I’ll never get my full vocal range back!)
5. I’m Very Much Looking Forward to Having A Voice Again
If you ever want to have a laugh, drop by our place around the kids’ bedtime where I am attempting to sing a lullaby. The end result ends up sounding a little like a cross between a seal and a balloon rapidly losing air. Eli has taken to offering for me not to sing to him anymore as ‘that really doesn’t sound good, Mum‘.
OK universe, I think I’ve learned my lessons now… can I pretty please have my voice back?