By Regan Barnes, ChairMom of the MotherBoard
Every six months or so, for reasons so far unexplained, my vocal cords go on strike. Maybe it’s something to do with the change of seasons or an unidentified allergy… Whatever it is, I’m left without one of my main mothering weapons… ahem, uh, I mean, tools.
I used to be a yeller and have worked hard over the past 15 (or so) years to tone down so my kids won’t tune out. The occasional temporary loss of my voice has taught me an important lesson in this sense: volume matters, and lower is better.
During one of these vocal cord vacations, I needed to get my children’s attention and ask a question, but whispering was all I could do. I decided to clap first, then ask the question once I had eye contact with them.
*CLAP* (their eyes look up)
Me, whispering: “We don’t have any leftovers. What would you like for lunch instead?”
Much to my surprise, the child who responded used a whisper, too! Then another child wanted to give their input, and (although this malady of mine is not contagious, I swear) their two cents were given with the same reduced-volume breathiness.
We all looked at each other and started giggling, realizing that the kiddos unnecessary raspiness was simply a matter of “monkey see, monkey do” or more appropo to this situation: monkey hear, monkey speak.
While this particular story is with regards to the volume of my voice, I’ve found its lesson to hold true with regards to a wide range of hearing the echoes of myself as a mother.
If I yell too much, so do my kids.
If I take a deep breath and try to stay calm, so do my kids.
If I make excuses and avoid chores, so do my kids.
If I sing silly songs to make chores more pleasant, so do my kids.
If I use sarcasm, so do my kids.
If I give compliments, so do my kids.
You’re understanding, right, Mama? Do you hear these "echoes" in your own home as well? It can be humbling!!
Our maternal voice -- not just the loud or soft but the content as well -- is like a hoe digging ruts in the brains of our babies. When their voices start to flow, the forces of gravity dictate that they’ll fall into those ruts and follow our example.
Since the whispering incident brought this natural law to my awareness, now I can conscientiously hoe the rows that help their voices flow along adding harmony to our home. It takes effort, yes. But I can do hard things! And so can you, Mama!
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