This past weekend, I lost my voice. I arrived home from work Wednesday evening with fully functional vocal chords.
Within 10 minutes, my voice was scratchy and barely audible. I knew I was coming down with a cold and it was affecting my throat.
What I didn't know was that I would only be able to whisper for 2 1/2 days and that I would learn several important life lessons from this experience.
LESSON 1: It feels terrible to be part of a conversation or in an environment where you cannot just respond and be heard. Talking in a whisper limits participation in active conversation. When my brain wanted to respond, I was unable to be included. I was able to comprehend a fraction of what it would feel like to be mute (or an Avox for Hunger Games fans). It's torture!
LESSON 2: Without language and tone, we are unable to express ourselves properly. My voice lost its tone completely so it was impossible to express my emotions - I could be sad, angry, annoyed, happy, pleased, etc. but no one could tell. Luckily, I had body language to compensate. This was hard for my kids to read and appreciate such that my son had a total meltdown when I whispered to him that I was late and couldn't help him get dressed in the morning.
That leads me right into LESSON 3: Moms without authoritative voices = unnerved children. Somehow my being sick and unable to help, explain, guide and support really affected their behavior.
LESSON 4: I finally understand toddlers who lack language skills but feel the need to express themselves. I constantly tell my kids there is no reason to hurt and that they should use their words when upset or frustrated. Without my voice, there were times when I was so frustrated that I felt the need to use my hands to express myself. I had to refrain from responding that way, which took a lot of self-control that a young child obviously does not have.
LESSON 5: When I whispered, people around me responded in kind. My children kept a low volume as did coworkers! I kept repeating myself to friends and family: "YOU don't have to whisper, I have to!" This refrain made me realize that using my "indoor" voice would produce a more calm environment in my home. I see the opposite effect in my office all the time. When one person is loud or giddy it spreads throughout the workplace.
LESSON 6: Treasure what you have, even the small things! You don't value your voice until it's missing. Thank G-d every day that our bodies work and that we are able to express ourselves. I am able to show my kids how much I love them with my songs, stories, instructions, and everyday informal lessons. I can share my experiences with others in a fun, humorous way, or describe what I saw on my way to work. I can speak on the phone with my husband, mother, friend, or even my boss. I can show loving-kindness and support with a few words.
LESSON 7: I can use my virtual voice to share these important insights with you.
As always, thank you for listening!