You would think that my daughters would've been thrilled by the prospect of a mother who couldn't fuss at them. You would be wrong. They initially felt frustrated by the brief notes I wrote in response to their questions. Fierce Teenager quickly got over it, but Wonder Girl, who's 9 years old, worried that she'd forget what my voice sounded like. I thought I would have more time for introspection and creative pursuits, but initially I found myself exerting way too much energy in trying to communicate with my children.
Lovely Boyfriend, who supports all my wacky ideas, didn't disappoint. When I wanted to quit, he encouraged me to keep going. Admittedly, he enjoyed the fact that he could share his thoughts and ideas with me, and I would simply sit and smile at him in silence. Bless his heart! Many women complain about partners who don't communicate. He's a writer, and not surprisingly, very verbal, but in a house full of women he doesn't always feel heard.
Some things I learned about myself and my family:
- My children are too dependent on me to tell them to do things. (my fault)
- I don't listen to anyone nearly enough.
- Just eliminating phone conversations for a while can free up a lot of mental energy.
- After years of trying, I haven't mastered my temper or my impatience. (a work in progress)
- I need times of silence on a consistent basis.
I will have more days of silence in my future. In addition, I'm going to try to add a block of silent time to each day. I think the whole family can benefit from this. One of my mentors once told me that she didn't speak before 9 in the morning. Her husband and kids also accepted that, barring emergencies, they shouldn't speak to her during this time either. One of my friends thought this was incredibly selfish. I immediately wished I could have the same. Well, why can't I?
That being said, a true silent retreat is definitely in my future. It's key that I'm able to experience not just the gift of not speaking, but also the gift of not having to process inputs from others, the television, radio, or computer.
For those of you who've considered trying something similar, I can't recommend it highly enough. I would only say you should decide what you want to get out of it, in order to put your parameters in place, and then let go of all expectations.
Go for it. Be quiet.