Mommy Voice

I don’t have a very authoritative voice. I’m soft-spoken; when I try to speak loudly, or yell, my voice cracks and shakes. Even when I try to project my voice, as I was taught to do in chorus years ago, my voice falls flat. For added fun, my allergies are so bad that when I do achieve any volume, I usually taper into a coughing fit. Noisy venues are not for me. And it has made motherhood more challenging than I’d anticipated.

My daughter is headstrong — which is putting it nicely. Daddy can bark a word or two at her and she snaps to attention. I try the same, and it falls on deaf ears. (Unless I threaten the loss of a treasured possession or activity, which is not how I want to parent.)

So imagine my surprise at this turn of events:

While we were at Celebrate (our town’s annual street fair), we stopped by our favorite booth: the rock shop. Where I talked Anya into buying her first grab bag. Daddy was still looking, but she was eager to dig in her new bag. So we headed for the park, where we could sit down.

The park is atop a small rise, and I was pushing the double stroller with Kai and all his gear.* Anya, of course, was not in the stroller; she was trying to dash ahead of me, to get into her bag. As I struggled to the top of the rise, where the walking track is, two teenage girls walked past. Anya zipped around them and took off.

Still fighting with the stroller, I called out to Anya. “Anya, slow down!”

“Yes, m’am,” one of the teens said, and slowed her pace.

Her friend looked at her quizzically. The girl looked at me, looked at Anya, and laughed. “I thought you were talking to me! My name is Tanya,” she said.

“Oh,” I laughed. “No, I was talking to her.” I pointed at Anya, who had for once done what I asked. “Her name is Anya. She keeps trying to run away from me.”

The conversation had two benefits. One, it showed me that my Mommy Voice works on someone. Two, the sight of me talking to a stranger made Anya come back to me.

*The smaller they are, the more crap they require with them at all times. I am really looking forward to the day when I can venture out with just my debit card, phone, and keys. Which I figure will happen, oh, about 20 years from now.


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