Today marks the first day I can talk after two weeks of post vocal chord surgery voice rest. It was hard, it was frustrating and above it was all annoying. Try figuring out Purim costumes for four kids, including a teenager, without talking. You know those late talking, two year olds who act out, hitting kids in play group? Yep. That was pretty much me. I was actually reduced to stomping my feet and flailing my arms around at my kids on more than one occasion.
But that’s not to say I didn’t learn anything from these past weeks. Following are a few lessons I hope to carry with me as a reenter the world of speech.
- Listening with both ears. Right before my surgery, my awesome nephew advised everyone at his bar mitzvah to listen more than talk. Maybe, he said, that’s why we have two ears and only one mouth. As someone who really likes the sound of my own voice, I felt like he was talking to me. Wise advice pre-surgery for when I would have no choice but to listen.
- Not talking is lonely. Even with people all around, not being able to converse with them meant that in a room full of people, I still felt alone. I thought often of those who are elderly, single or just lonesome. I hope that feeling this way will propel me to look out for others in the room that may be feeling alone. I especially missed calling my mom and my bestie everyday. And then I would think of those out there who have no one to call. How wonderful if there was a Partner-in-Telephone initiative where community members were set up to call certain elderly people who need a friendly call?
- Gossip is not important. You don’t have to be a rebbetzin to realize that this whole episode was an opportunity for a big ol’ mussar lesson in shmirat halashon. I obviously couldn’t speak lashon hara, and you know what? Keeping it in wasn’t a big deal.
- Acknowledge someone’s difference and move on. The best people to be around these past two weeks were the ones who made a joke or a offered a kind word upon seeing me and then proceeded to still include me in the conversation. The ones who started whispering once they realized I couldn’t talk or just left without trying to engage? Not so much. I hope to be able to return the favor to others who have what can be an awkward social challenge.
All that gained, I’m thrilled to be able to talk again and sing. And especially to tell my kids I love them. And to get off the iPad.