I woke up today to a piercing headache and a dull earache, accompanied by the mother of all sore throats. This came as no big surprise, though, since the whole family has been battling this awful bug on and off for almost three weeks, and I had been feeling a bit under the weather for a few days now. What DID catch me off guard, though, was what happened when I opened my mouth to ask my hubby to get the little one form her crib, since I felt way too sick to get out of bed just yet. Try as I might, not a sound came out, only the wheezing and rasping sounds of a poor soul that has lost her voice to a sinus infection and sore throat.
It has been a long time since I last lost this voice of mine – probably back in my college days while cheering my team on to victory against our rivals. That said, there I was – incapable of anything more than a weak and pain-filled whisper – lying in bed feeling sorry for myself when it hit me: how was I going to make it through an entire day virtually voiceless? How would I keep my tiny troops in line and out of trouble without my mom-tone? (You know what I am talking about; it’s that deep, dead-serious voice that is laced with all sorts of you-better-stop-doing-that-right-now and I-mean-it comments all wrapped up in one tone of voice that we moms use when we really mean business)
The more I pondered this, the more I realized just how much I use my VOICE to parent my girls instead of my PERSON. My go-to daily kid-management tool has become speech, which – while a valuable and vital tool in any mom’s parenting tool kit – is hardly the best or only way to connect with and guide my little ones.
I gulped down the nervousness rising in my throat (or maybe it was just phlegm…who’s to say, really) and steeled myself for what lay ahead: a day of impromptu, inconvenient silence paired with an unplanned and immediate return to interactive parenting. How has it come to this? How have I turned so far toward the side of vocal parenting while neglecting the other points of training such as eye contact, touch, listening, and leading by (gulp) example?
Lying in bed, I decided to chronicle this day of silence in an attempt to see what I have really become as a person and as a parent. I get the disconcerting feeling that it is not going to be encouraging, but nevertheless, I now have a burning need to see the truth about the parenting patterns that I have fallen into. I understand how it happens – slowly over time, as we get lulled into proverbial “sleep” by the repetitive nature of parenting (get up, make food, pick up toys, nap, make food, pick up toys, play, nap, make food, bathe kids, sleep, start all over again) – but now that I have caught a glimpse of it thanks in large part to this forced time of silence and, thus, a forced slowing down of life as well, I really want to understand where I am at so that I can begin to deliberately get back on the right track.
I do not want to be a disconnected parent. I do not want to be a parent that speaks without listening or that misses out on their children’s little moments because of being too busy to be fully present. This loss of voice, although inconvenient as all get-out, is perhaps a blessing that I need to see with grace and faith-filled eyes. I look forward to the day of learning that lies ahead.