I've been a mother with no voice for the past three days. Literally. What started as a cold or allergies, turned into hoarseness, which has turned into an all out loss of voice. Even now, no words from my mouth can be heard audibly beyond a whisper. The Preacher could not resist the opportunity to tease me, as I rarely suffer paucity in speech.
Voiceless, I noticed a few inconveniences right away: inability to answer phone calls, difficulty in explaining the reason for an exchange to a store clerk, and the impossible communication within a two-story house. Wrangling four active boys in public initially proved inconceivable as well. Much snapping was employed. Since my boys could only hear my directions unless I came right up to one ear, I ran my legs off catching up with each of them to whisper all that was on my mind. Soon, the boys were coming close to hear what I needed to tell them, and would sometimes gently whispered back.
I've been thinking about how quiet the house seems on account of my inability to speak audibly. I've been thinking about how much more I've physically made contact with my kids during this experience--how often I've looked my child in the eye, or put my arm around one of them when speaking quietly. I don't think In contrast, I'm not sure I had recognized before, just how often I unintentionally bark out orders from another room, or raise my voice above the rabble, never breaking from my task at hand. So many things are ultimately communicated in passing. Is it any wonder that the volume (though not all angry) can be so loud from one room to the other, everyone making requests and observations with a simple raising of the voice. How much more intentional the communication has been when brought within the context of proximity, intimacy, and undivided attention?
My days are filled with my responses to the kids...and in return, their responses to me. This week, my kids have heard from their mom in a way that required almost no sound. Perhaps they heard just what they needed to hear: quiet and gentle, rather than loud and irritated. They heard minimal words but maximum expression. They heard a mom who was forced into silence, but gratefully embraced an unexpected opportunity to say more with less.