For better or worse, in my house if Mama isn't happy - no one is happy. I think it's too much pressure. If I am in a bad mood, I watch as my children one by one succumb to the surly. They're like little emotional sponges, waiting to soak in and squeeze out whatever mood I'm in.
We have had winds here all weekend. The whipping, whining, blow trees down kinds of winds that come ripping down from the mountains and set everyone on edge. It makes me feel cock-eyed - that kind of constant howling. So all weekend I battled the gusts and my souring mood - pushing doors open against the gales only to have them swing back and bark shins, watching as new green buds skittered across the field, and saying more than one silent prayer that May comes quicker than ever.
Today it is still blowing, so in order to calm the members of my household, I am going to have to pull out one of my least favorite tools in my box of tricks - the soft voice. I know that my kids will respond favorably, and I know that Bob will, too. I've talked about this before. The soft breathy voice, when employed properly, puts a smile on the children, keeps the dog in line, and renders your husband malleable and eager. I may have confused the effects of dog and husband - but you get my point.
But you cannot laugh. You must act as if nothing is out of the ordinary as you request, in your most breathy Marilyn-esque manner, that your husband/child/dog come hither/set the table/sit.
It is perhaps one of the most effective and annoying techniques out there. Especially when you believe, in your heart of hearts, that speaking like an asthmatic hooker isn't going to work on your husband (who loves you as the strong and self-reliant feminist that you may be thankyouverymuch) and when you try it for the first time you watch as he melts like cheap foundation on a summer day. Sure, it's easier to understand why our kids respond positively to softer inflections. They're kids. Kittens and puppies like it, too. But our husbands? They should want to do our bidding 24/7, even if we sound like Kathleen Turner on her third pack, right? Or do they secretly thrill when we sound weak and feminine, like we're in the throes of...something...when we address them. I still remember the first time I tried it on Bob. In my breathiest, weakest voice.....
[mustering self control to not fall on floor in heap of giggles] "Bobby? Honey?"
[Bob, visably straightens and perks up, a lot like our dog does when presented with bacon] "Y-yes? Sweetie what do you need?"
[tracing finger around shoulder, breathing softly] "Would you go to the store for me again? And get some milk? I forgot to put it on the list when you went earlier."
[Husband flushes, pulls me close and kisses my neck]. "Of course, darling."
I'm barely exaggerating.
Try it. I am going to employ this today, as I work to sooth my own nerves, calm my children, and try not to look out the window as I watch houses fly by with the tumbleweeds.