A funny thing happened on the California coast last week: I went on a walk and came back without a voice.
Maybe I’d been talking too much in general, as I had had a speaking engagement that morning. Maybe the reunion with a dear friend of the heart and all our gabbing on the beach, finally did me in. Or maybe the wind and the sand and the elements came together at the perfect calamitous time and decided to have a silencing party on my throat. Whatever it the event, my voice is still recovering. By the end of the day, a week later, I still talk in scratchy whispers.
When the HBH (Hot Black Husband) and the little caramels picked me up at the airport on Sunday, I forced hugs and kisses upon my boys – because, I, of course, hold rights to said forced hugs and kisses as long as I hold the title of Mother.
“Why did you come back different?” my oldest asked me.
“What’s wrong with you, Mama?” the youngest echoed. Had I gotten a little bit of a tan and come back slightly sun kissed? No. My voice was gone. And this, according to two and four year old little boys, was different and wrong.
Our reunion, of course, was short-lived, as my husband left the next morning for a week-long business trip. Traveling has become a part of what we do and who we are – it’s a way of living we enter into, sometimes for Mama when she speaks and sometimes for Dada when he has to go work in another office. And it’s a way of living that makes us that much more grateful for our partner, because this solo-parenting business morning, noon and night is hard work.
(And, lest I forget to say this, hats off to the parents who do this all the time. I see you. I notice you. I commend you. I throw every hat in your general direction, for you deserve a round of applause).
But a funny thing happens when it’s my turn to parent alone: I set my expectations low. Like, we’re attempting to do the Limbo two inches from the ground, and we know we’re not really going to bend that low, so if we do succeed, hip hip hooray to us. Otherwise, I’m just in survival mode, as in: let’s keep the littles alive.
Such was the case this last week. But such also was the case of voiceless me. And as I stepped into this week without a voice – also, on the rebound from a soul-filled weekend outside of Santa Cruz, in recovery from my first semester back in the classroom, and maybe just a little bit exhausted altogether from life – I found not having a voice was a gift in and of itself.
I couldn’t yell or shout or raise my voice at my children, literally.
And when I couldn’t raise my voice at them, they couldn’t raise their voices back to me.
When I talked in whispers, they called the game fun, and talked back to me in whispers. Quiet encompassed our lives, for just this week, instead of loudness. Instead of missing Dada. Instead of pure I-can’t-do-this exhaustion.
Because sometimes, when it’s quiet, we listen more. We tune our ears to the sounds we don’t normally hear: to the cars zooming by and the dog barking across the street. To a smile breaking across the lips of a young boy and the gulping down of a creamy glass of milk. To the beauty found in stillness. To the Divine. To God.
And then, it’s like we step forward into the cycle: when we step into stillness and silence and quiet, when we talk to each other in whispers instead of in shouts, our hearts calm. We enter into each other’s stories. We take deep breaths. We say our pleases and thank you’s. And we somehow don’t even need the television and the iPads as much to survive a week without the one we love.
So, whispering might just be my newest life technique.
Because when I whisper, I enter into stillness and beauty and maybe even the Holy a little bit more, too. And I can’t think of a better way to bide my time; can you?
Whispering: it is a foreign concept to you? Do you ever purposefully whisper? How does whispering help you connect with God?0