The Power of Voice

The secret moms and writers know

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

How old were you the first time you heard your own voice? Did you cringe? 

I didn’t believe it was me. I thought that there was something wrong with the cassette tape (yup, I’m that old–and I recorded myself using a boombox. Children of the ’80s, rock on!). Then I briefly considered never talking again.

Problem is, I’m a born talker. I love talking with people, even strangers. I’ll also talk to my dogs, the cat, even the plants (scientists in the ’80s swore this was good for them–is that still true?). And now the universe is playing one of its karma games because it has given me a child who talks nonstop.

I love listening to what he has to say 99% of the time. The way his mind works is truly bizarre and fascinating, and I say that with all the love of a mother who has already received roses and sharing privileges on a Lego Wegman’s hauler for Mother’s Day. I want him to feel like he can talk to me about anything, and that I’m listening, and that what he has to say is valued. I really do.

But 1% of the time (okay, maybe 7.5% on certain days, like when I’m not feeling well, or have a deadline, or when all he wants to talk about is the relationships between Pokémon), I just need him to give me a few quiet minutes. That’s when I break out, “the Mom voice.” You know the one. It’s just slightly lower than Sigourney Weaver’s in the original Ghostbusters when she answers, “There is no Dana, only Zuul.” Except I’m saying, “Hey Bud, that’s interesting, but just give Mama a minute please.”

Ghostbusters – There Is No Dana, Only ZUUL

He’s a good kid (like I said, sharing rights on the Lego hauler he built himself), so the first 200 times I used that voice, he ran away, wide-eyed and o the brink of hyperventilation. Now, it’s like he doesn’t even hear “the Mom voice.” In fairness, he’s usually too busy talking to listen.

So I’ve had to up my game. Admittedly, the first couple of tries might have been a little over the top, judging by the tears. But I like to think I now have a solid repertoire of voices to inspire just the right reaction. There’s the cloyingly sweet Mom apology voice (“Sorry, kiddo, but I’m still in the video conference, so could you please stop talking”) to encourage quiet play in the home office while you’re working. The Zen-Mom countdown voice (“Make a good decision in three-two-one….”) to inspire the child to do what you want him/her to do. And the Kathy Bates Misery voice (“See what you made me do!”) to induce the child to leave your vicinity immediately.

As I was trying to determine which was the right voice to instill at least five minutes of silence after approximately 900 updates in 30 minutes on the status of the eggs in his Pocket Frogs nursery, I had an epiphany.

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