Wednesday, July 8, 2009

one of those moms

The first time I ever had the experience of sitting on a jury, I was tortured. I had questions, comments, feedback, and witty repartee to offer; yet I was not allowed to speak.

I was once a fairly shy and quiet kid, and even into young adulthood my tendency was to hold my tongue. This propensity must have changed gradually as I matured and became an educated and experienced adult (stop laughing). There was no single defining moment when I spoke up and received signs from heaven that this was my destiny, all I know is that I now find it almost physically impossible to keep my mouth shut when I have an opinion.

I imagine that this is a good thing, I always tell my kids to speak up or others will speak for them. When I think of the qualities I admire in people, at least theoretically, verbal acuity is highly ranked.

However, when I think of the people I deal with in work, life, and especially at my kids’ school on a day to day basis, I become concerned that I have become one of those moms.

You know, the one who has something to say about everything, who always needs clarification on the expectations of an assignment, who always questions the mysteries of the report card, who is always the first to answer surveys and give feedback and generally make it so that my opinion is as good as plastered across my forehead.

It's not that I'm complaining - at least not all of the time. I make it a point never to articulate my perception of a problem without also suggesting a workable solution. But I am rarely silent. I rarely let it be, rarely just wait it out. I have to speak my mind.

But that doesn't mean I go around talking to people all of the time, I hardly have time for that sort of nonsense. E-mail has become an enabling tool for perpetually rushed, non-confrontational bigmouths like me. This is good because it allows me to work through my initial reaction before I formulate and articulate a response. But it’s bad because when my words are delivered in writing, the reader does not experience the buffering effects of body language, eye contact, or clarifying questions. And when there is no response to my e-mail, there's no response to my issue.

Is it better to let things sit? To rely on human nature and assume that others will come to realization about whatever the thing is that I want them to realize? I find that I just can’t do it.

Can you?


KG said...

I NEVER get selected for jury duty. I'd actually kind of like to be on a jury for the experience, but they never pick lawyers.

At least being That Mom isn't nearly as bad as being That Girl in class who always asks questions and keeps everybody in the room for an extra 10 minutes while she seeks clarification. Not that I'm bitter about my law school experience or anything ... *snort*

Logical Libby said...

I fear for my children in the future. I am going to be the Mom that never shuts up, much like mine was in my childhood. I think it's genetic...

I've always thought the people who keep quiet are the ones who don't want to participate in life.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

No of course I cannot do it. I have to always talk, too. Communication is, after all, my middle name.

I do obsess over the emails, though, especially when a reply isn't immediately forthcoming. And then think of a magically more clever way I should have stated what I stated. In my mind? About 5 minutes later? I'm an articulate genius.


Kathi D said...

I don't have a clue. I have the lethal combination of being the youngest of 5 children, thus, always needing to perform for the crowd, plus ADD, which messes with the sense of appropriateness in conversation. I try to shut up, I really do. Probably don't succeed as often as I should.

one with lots to say in PA said...

this "problem" is exactly how I ended up running for, and being elected to the school board.

hope you find a better (read:less stressful) outlet :),

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem. I try to advise strangers on the street. My daughter is mortified. Whenever we see something comment-worthy she already knows to say to me "NO! Don't say ANYTHING!" Obviously people like us ought to be given some sort of international consulting position to ensure our opinions are asked on everything before anything happens.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

I can be very outspoken at times, but at somepoint in the last two years I've stepped back from voicing my opinion at my children's schools. Sadly, I think the reason is apathy, or in the case of the public school my older daughter attends, futility. So I guess I sometimes can sit back and let things sit.



Lola said...

Not so much! I've almost always got an opinion, and I have no trouble making my thoughts known. It's a gift ;)

E-mails are very dangerous if you're a smartass, like me, so I've learned to keep those short and to the point. Of course, I learned the hard way.

Anonymous said...

I always have an opinion, but I do not email. I call and summarize in email. If you think my oral communication is brutal, my email communication can remove the first layer of skin. I, like Beth, have become frustrated with the educational system. This year I stopped giving my constructive feedback and simply switched schools. I have learned to only commment on stuff that really bothers me and let the rest slide by. That and Muay Thai have made a huge improvement in my stress level. That being said, congratulations on being "one of those moms" who cares!