On my refrigerator I have a handmade sign that says, simply, “Quiet.” Usually the people who see it laugh and think it’s an order for my children, or my Calgon-take-me-away dream, and I smile and let them think that, but really it’s an instruction for myself. After a Bible study I did last fall I realized how much I need to remind myself to practice quiet, that maybe instead of telling Aaron he’s wrong or nagging my children or criticizing my loved ones to my girlfriends I should just shut up and not talk. Let my husband figure things out for himself. Let my kids experience the consequences of not using the bathroom when it’s obvious to me that they need to, let them learn to listen to their bodies instead of their shrill mother. Let my girlfriends think my loved ones aren’t always annoying.

And I need to practice quiet in my self-talk, too, and shush the voice that tells me how much I’m in danger of being unloved, unliked; turn off the tape that plays telling me that I’m not good enough, smart enough, right enough, worthy enough. And quiet the words that come out of my mouth desperate to prove how much I know about everything, so eager to show you how much I know so you don’t think I’m stupid – or worse, wrong.

I rarely pay attention to the sign, of course. Every once in a while I’ll glance at it just as I’m opening my mouth to say something unnecessary; but mostly it hangs there, unnoticed, while I drown it out with useless talk. Today, for example, I gave some very wise, considered advice to a friend about potty-training her son – never mind that she is a very smart mommy who is quite skilled at figuring out what her son needs without my lengthy advice, and never mind that of the two children I have potty-trained, one wets the bed and one refuses to wipe his own bottom.

There I sat, feeling very satisfied with myself for having such helpful things to tell her, considering myself a good friend and an excellent mother; and then I got up to go check on Peter — where I found him down in the basement, decorating himself with the contents of the catbox. I stood there going EW EW EW EW EW for just a short moment before I grabbed him and whisked him away to the bathtub. It wasn’t until after I had shampooed his hair that he smiled at me, exposing a grinful of gravel, with blue flecks from the Odor-Eliminating Crystals; whereupon I grabbed the closest toothbrush – mine – and scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until there was no more gray paste in between his teeth.

Moral of the story: NEVER, EVER, EVER TALK. For the love of God, JUST SHUT UP.


2 Responses to “Smug”

  1. 1 Rachel October 16, 2009 at 4:03 am

    I laughed out loud, literally. Reminds me of a situation that I was in with my neice. I’ll spare you the details, but just know that this happens to the best of us.

  2. 2 suburbanink October 19, 2009 at 10:56 am

    its days later and this post still has me squirming. reminds me of the time you told the story of approaching Aaron’s back with a kitchen knife. Ack! I love this post so much. and as for the potty training. your advice is good! and I’m leaving the whole thing alone for a while. 🙂

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