I expected a lot of physical changes when I became a mom. For the most part, I wasn’t disappointed; everything that was once stationary went south for the winter, the travel luggage under my eyes is now a matching set, and I’ve generally modified my personal style and hygiene so as not to alarm anyone.
One thing I did not anticipate was my voice changing. Not that awkward change. Nothing has descended, there’s no extra hair anywhere (save the lone wiry hairs now sprouting from my post-menopausal face). But it has adjusted in both timber and tone in order to accommodate the parenting scenario. For example:
Normal Mommy: Everything is status quo; I’ve had my coffee, the kids are dressed and ready for school, everyone is fed, and the eldest child is being particularly clever and/or witty. It’s a sing-songy lilt, cheerful and vibrant. Woodland animals perch on our balcony to hear me use this voice. I use this voice 1% of the time.
FBI Mommy: This is fact-finding, investigative reporting mommy. It’s all business; not “loud” but definitely “assertive”. We need to get out the door. Where are your shoes? What do you want to eat for dinner? I put the emphasis on the last word because the men in my house function on brevity – we’re a bullet-point family. Use too many words and you’ll see eyes glaze over.
Clenched Mommy: By the time I’ve used this voice, something has gone sideways. Perhaps the eldest has refused my five thousandth request to get in the car or the thirty thousandth request to wash his hands after he pees. When I speak through clenched teeth, consider it a warning shot across the bow. The people I live with know they have roughly 30 seconds to autocorrect. During this time, other muscle groups may or may not be clenched.
Bellowing Mommy: I’ve had years of theatre training and voice work. As a result, I’ve developed a bellow that comes not from the diaphragm, but from the darkest recesses of my soul. The approximate volume is roughly a hybrid of foghorn and T-Rex; it breaks the sound barrier. I reserve this voice for imminent danger. We were at Centre Island one summer, and a much younger Nathan took off running towards the road – with a truck belching across his path. I let out a “STOP” – Nate stopped, as did the other 50 or so parents around us. I think the truck stopped too. And the birds. Bellowing mommy is for emergencies only.
Savage Mommy: I won’t bore you with this one. We all have this voice. Roughly the pitch of sonar, “savage” only occurs past the point of no control. I hate Savage Mommy, I avoid her at all costs. Most of the time, I’ll just remove myself from the situation and cry in the bathroom until it passes.
If emotional temperature can be indicated by tone of voice, I feel like I’m always running a fever. I try to stay in Normal Mommy mode as much as possible. Totally doable with two young boys, right? So how do you keep yourself even-keeled? What’s your Mommy voice?