Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nice Mommy #2

Turns out I'm not that much nicer when I can't talk. Just because I'm not speaking doesn't mean I don't lose it from time to time - it's just that right now I can't spew out my frustration with words.
Yesterday I got really mad at Bran. I'd love to camouflage his identity, but you'd figure it out. I was totally and incredibly frustrated - a combination of a disrespectful response to me mixed with selfishness on both our parts. So have you ever seen a red-faced, 36-year-old woman scribbling out words and words to her nine-year-old son? Just picture Branson sitting by my side, looking around my bedroom in between reading the wipe board - erase - mom fills it up again - read - erase... ridiculous. For some reason he had this far-off expression in his eyes...
And you can imagine, I was even more frustrated that I couldn't TELL him all those things he needed to hear me say, right??! Because HEARING me would have definitely changed the pattern of our interactions, since this has only been going on for about two years now. Ugh!!!
So again, it was a wake-up call that in these situations, I have no business getting angry. I should even expect these responses from my kiddos, then have swift, natural consequences ready. And then be consistent. And not angry.
As for my doc's no-using-my-voice instructions, I'm on day seven of ten. Monday morning marks the day I can officially start speaking again, so one more silent weekend and I should be good to go. In some ways, it's been a relief not to speak at all. At the park or at Central Market, I can totally and completely focus on my children - no need to engage in conversation with other moms. It's actually been kind of a nice break to be hermit-like the past few days. I've forgotten a few times and said a few words, but have been nearly 100% silent. My mistakes have been either late at night or first thing in the morning when I've been half asleep and asked Corbin a question - and he looks at me and smirks, reminding me of this silence sentence. I've mouthed things to the kids and after several unsuccessful attempts of getting them to understand me, I've whispered (which is worse than talking, as it takes more vocal control and makes the vocal cords work harder) and they've reeled backwards in shock that I'm WHISPERING. "Stop, Mommy!" Talk about taking things seriously.
Out of all the kids, it's Basden that's I'm having the most difficulty communicating with. The boys can read my notes, and Esther understands gestures just fine - I can point to the potty, point to her shoes, and point to her sippy cup. But Basden needs "real" conversation and answers, yet isn't reading more than "hat" and "cat" and "sat." And unfortunately I don't communicate very often in Dr. Seuss words. So I know she's a little frustrated, but usually either Corbin or his parents or my mom is around (or the boys to read her my notes).
One thing I'm learning this week is that there's a significant power in silence. In fact, being quiet can sometimes prove much more powerful than words or speech. It's opened my eyes to just being QUIET.
Just this morning Charles and Jamie took all four of the kids to Waxahachie for the day to visit a dear friend and just spend time with she and her grandchildren. It's something Jamie has talked about wanting to do for weeks as she's anticipated being in Fort Worth this week. I balked at the last minute and chose to stay home - sending the crew with them instead. Of course Jamie had given me that option, but I felt guilty staying behind for two reasons - one, sending them with a car full of kids and not being there to help with crowd control, and two - wanting Jamie to know that I'm interested in her friends and spending a day with them.
But truthfully, it sounded exhausting spending the day with people I don't know without a voice. It's difficult to show interest without talking, almost takes more energy. So while I knew Jamie would understand this morning when I jotted her a note on my handy-dandy dry erase board, I felt bad.
I thought about writing out my "defense" - that it was genuinely my voice stopping me from going with them, not disinterest - but it dawned on me that Jamie would know that. If she knows me - and she does - and trusts my character, then she'd figure it out. I can trust her to give me the benefit of the doubt, to see the best in me - even when there's a lot of selfishness and crummy in there too - I know she chooses to see my best.
Today's devotional in Streams in the Desert is about the silence of Jesus. Specifically, about Jesus remaining silent when men reviled him, beat him, and eventually killed him. He had all of His Father's power available to him, yet he chose to stand in the "power of stillness."
Oh, how often we thwart God's intervention on our behalf by taking up our own cause or striking a blow in our own defense! May God grant each of us this silent power and submissive spirit. Then once our earthly battles and strife are over, others will remember us as we now remember the morning dew, the soft light of sunrise, a peaceful evening breeze, the Lamb of Calvary, and the gentle and holy heavenly Dove.

So that's what I desire - silent power and a submissive spirit... to be a peaceful evening breeze, not the ugly hurricane my children have witnessed more often than I'd like to admit. And regarding talking too much - to use silence instead of retorts and defenses. To let my friends and family think through things and let them hear God speak truth rather than my repetitive, often self-seeking words. I'm taking lessons from my toddler children who would cross their arms around them and hug themselves in an effort for "self control." I clearly haven't mastered it yet, but am reminded this week that a soft response in love is far more powerful - and pleasing.
As I've said many, many times, I'm learning - along with Corbin and our children - how to live together and make our family and home a place we all want to be - a place where we all feel confident and secure with boundaries and overflowing approval and acceptance.
Leaving you with a few pictures from our week - has been a JOY and a lot of fun to have all the kids home with a relaxed schedule this week.