The Angry Voice

Posted on | April 14, 2015 | 1 Comment

One of the hardest things about being they type of attorney I am, is leaving work at the office. It tends to crawl into the trunk and back seat of my car or run along beside me, tapping at the window and whispering “What about this guy, is he okay? What about Mrs. so and so? Did she get her medications today?”

By the time I get J at school, my mind is whirring with all the things that may or may not have gotten accomplished at work and it feels like a good 50% of my time is spent merely phoning it in with him, especially on Mondays, when work is screaming in my head and my son is screaming in his own way for my undivided attention. I only have so much mind that works, and lately it seems unfairly skewed toward the people who are hurt and have signed on the dotted line for my assistance.

Yesterday was one of those days.

My assistant called in sick to work and my phone rang off the hook. Emails were coming in by the fist full and every way I turned, there was someone else who needed something pressing. To top it all off, I had to leave the office early for a doctor’s appointment which just means that MORE things than normal didn’t get done. I finally finished at the doctor’s office around 4:30, clutching my prescription for a colonoscopy (yay.), and rushed home to get J’s tball uniform so we could make it to his 5:45 game. I raced back to school to pick him up, only to get an email alert at 5:05 that the game was called on account of rain. I was frustrated, frazzled, soaking wet, and overworked by the time we rolled into the driveway at home.

J was talking non stop about his day, something I usually love, but today I just couldn’t take it.

I walked inside, exasperated, handed him a DVD and told him to put it in while I made dinner. I forced the dog outside to the bathroom. I started cooking dinner, all the while doing what I thought was my best at carrying my side of the conversation with J as he peppered me with questions and comments about any and everything. Finally, blessedly, there was a pause in his conversation. I looked up to see him standing beside me at the oven.

“Can I help you?” I asked, in maybe not my nicest tone, while stirring the green beans in the pot.

“Um… Mom?” He looked at me quizzically. “Why are you talking to me in your angry voice today?”

Well shit, then, Mom of the Year.Way to go.

If you’ve ever thought you could get by with phoning it in with a five year old, let me remind you that you absolutely can not. I put down the spoon, drew in a deep breath and apologized. It’s just so easy to lose sight of the fact that he’s five and needs an attentive (and pleasant) mommy. It’s easy to fall into the routine of turning on the TV and encouraging him not to speak to me until I’ve had time to decompress, time to release the demons of my work life. It’s apparently all too easy to fall into speaking to him as though he were a burden on my time.

When really he isn’t.

When really, he’s the most special thing I have.

So the green beans turned out terribly. And I ended up just eating a salad for dinner and handing him a Lunchable. And maybe in another universe I would feel awful about that, but in this one? In this one, I felt okay because it meant that I could just slide next to him on the sofa to watch a movie, and feel his face pressed against my shoulder. I swallowed down the urge to tell him to move and just. give. me. space. and tried to remember that how I speak is just as important as what I say. Maybe more important.

Being a working mom is just hard. And that’s the Gospel. Because for every time I get those moments right… say the right things, use the right tone of voice… there are fifteen others when I screw it all up. But hopefully, when he looks back at these times we’ve had together, he’ll remember that at the very least, he was always able to correct me when I was unfairly using my “angry voice.”


One Response to “The Angry Voice”

  1. Leah
    April 14th, 2015 @ 9:57 am

    Ditto. My son asked me why I was using my grumpy voice the other day. These kids – they sure are mirrors for us to see ourselves as we really are.

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