Now that I've become a mother, I watch videos of children and babies in my social media feeds much more keenly than I did before. Those little everyday clips bring back the fond memories of when my daughter was at that stage or fill me with a happy expectation of what's to come in her life. What often also comes along with those videos is the mom voice of my friends from behind the phone camera. And so many times the captions of these videos, I've noticed, contain a funny little disclaimer like "please forgive my mom voice."
Oh, friends and fellow mothers, there is no need to apologize for the sound of your voice when you're interacting with your kids. Of course I know what you mean. I, too, have watched videos back and thought Oh god, I sound so annoying, or, Was that even necessary for me to say? or even the mind-blowing moment, Sheesh, I sound just like my mom!
It was my voice she heard echoing around in the womb for all those months.
First of all, if you want people to ignore the voice they hear in the background of the video, posting an apologetic adage along with it isn't going to do the trick — it only brings more attention to it. But beyond that, there's truly nothing to ignore. At some point, I decided not to be ashamed of my mom voice. (There are far too many things that are easy to feel insecure about as a mom. The struggle is real, but my resolve to maintain my confidence is even more real.)
Despite any self-doubt we have about whether or not our kids actually like us or our voices in nearly every waking moment of their early lives (or the voice in their heads when their older!), it's important and mind-blowing to know that it's our voice that engages their brains like no one else can. "Parts of the brain related to emotion, reward processing, facial recognition and social functioning are also amped by hearing from mom," reports CNN.
I mean, my daughter hearing my voice affects the way she processes the world! That's a pretty huge deal, and it's a benefit to her that I don't even have to work hard to produce. It makes sense, as it was my voice she heard echoing around in the womb for all those months.
If we could just forget for a second the hilarious memes about the "mom voice," and think about it from the perspective that your voice as your child's mother is "as comforting as a hug," I think we'd be able to cut ourselves some slack in the self-criticizing department.
The possibly annoying tonal quality to others (see also: vocal fry), and maybe even to ourselves upon playback, or the sing-song phrases that naturally come out of our own experience of seeing our children do something new, cute, or even frustrating is actually comforting to our kids. So the whole idea of trying to hide, repress, or minimize our mom voice is futile and doesn't make sense. Let's celebrate all of ourselves — even the sound of our voice. I mean, that is truly the most powerful and effective way my daughter is going to learn to celebrate all of who she is.
I love knowing that she accepts and loves me and the sound of my voice as it is. She doesn't know how to compare me to others or to size me up against another mother. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there'll be an odd, frank comment or two that only a small child can get away with a la why are your eyes so puffy, mommy? or is that what boobies are supposed to look like? But honestly, none of that discovery of the human body they go through is going to keep them from thinking we're the most amazing, lovely-sounding human being they've ever come in contact with. I've decided to take a cue from my daughter and believe the very same thing.