I tell you, any more imposed silence and my self-awareness will become too much to bear.
I have been without my normal voice for about 30 hours now, and one full evening with my husband and kids was enough time to teach me a major lesson.
I discovered last night after my posting that I have nominated myself Family Moderator. Between the kids. Between the kids and my husband. Not a role I want, actually, when I think about it. But last night there were a dozen times that I wanted to intervene in everyone else's conversations. I'd interpret my three year old's stories for my husband. Then I'd try to explain my husband's motives for what he was saying to my six year old. I tried to correct the way Jeff was helping Sophia with her homework. And I wanted to jump in at the first sign of conflict between my daughters.
Since I was too quiet to make myself heard above even the smallest fray, I had no choice but to sit back and self examine. And you know what I discovered? I use my voice for the purposes of control! I believe on some level that I know the best way for every person in my family to talk to one another, and I'm out to correct every little misunderstanding.
Let's just assume for a moment that this latent feeling is correct: I am the expert in family communication and understand each of their motives well enough to explain them to other people. What possible benefit can it actually be to my family if I perform this service? Am I not actually disempowering them? How are they supposed to learn how to understand one another if I am always there to interpret? If my family members are miscommunicating with one with one another, letting them experience the natural consequences would be the best way to "teach" them to find a better way to talk.
And then, let's consider the much more likely scenario that I am NOT a communication expert. Now I'm really doing damage among those I most love, imposing my perspective on their ways of expressing themselves.
Whew. Can any other women (moms or otherwise) relate to what I'm saying here? Try imposing your own vow of silence at a family function or just an evening of getting the kids fed and bathed, observe your own impulses, and get back to me. It would help to know I'm not alone with this controlling tongue of mine.
The lovely side of this discovery is that the Family Moderator role actually wears me out, though I didn't even realize I was playing it. I think I'll hand in my resignation immediately. When my voice comes back, I'll try counting to five before I intervene in a family conversation. Maybe I'd better pray my laryngitis lasts a little longer -- just to strengthen my resolve.