Does the Cat Have Your Tongue?

Patch's mom columnist reminds you to use your voice.

I have an opinion and I am not afraid to share it.

What about you? Are you a mom who swallows her words, or spits out her opinion?

Remember the days working in corporate America, when we were confident to share our insight, voice our concerns and contribute to the conversation?

What happened to some of us when we had children?

It seems the baby stole our original thoughts and the cat has our tongue. We have become silent.   

Do we fear being labeled or ostracized in the neighborhood if we speak in public?     

I remember attending PTO meetings when I was a rookie mom, listening to women voice their viewpoints on issues of concern. 

Some called them rabble-rousers and constant complainers. The crowd was ready to award them the scarlet “B.”

My coffee mug was half full. I saw them as smart, insightful and knowledgeable.  I was awed that they were willing to just “say it out loud.”  It wasn’t being aggressive, but being assertive. Some spoke with thoughtfully researched information while others used hindsight as their guide.   

They advocated for foreign language classes, full-day kindergarten, innovation in the classroom and grammar drills. They were proponents of change willing to stick their neck out for the common good of all the students and trying to make a difference.

It is a risk to share your opinion in a community, especially if your voice goes against the tide. I have seen the consequences handed out to strong women stating their opinion in the public domain. You can send her home with clipped wings, but don’t forget even caged birds sing.

Like a boy whose voice changes and matures during puberty, my voice became less concerned with being liked and more about saying the “honest thing” when I turned 40.

Yes, I caught the episode of Oprah when she instructed women to listen to your inner voice and share your opinion once the laugh lines of life appear.

It is life lessons. Think about how Dr. Seuss taught us and our children the importance of taking a stand and fighting for what you believe in. The Lorax hopped up on a stump and continued to speak for the trees even when the bulldozers arrived. The Lorax remained true to his convictions and so should we. 

This week we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and his speeches and determination were once again spotlighted. He was a man who took risks and spoke out against the norm in his quest to bring about change.   

Let’s honor our voices and opinions this week. And if your voice is still locked in a box, I hope the next time you listen to the mom “with the big mouth” you will remember the Lorax and Dr. King and support her quest for change.   

It’s just my opinion.

Robin Brickman January 19, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Excellent, Lynn. Thank you.
Erika Dankovits Kao January 19, 2012 at 01:27 PM
What a wonderful article, Lynn.
Rebecca K. Abma January 19, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Lynn, you always inspire me. Thanks for another great article!
Lisa Kender January 19, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Great article! We have the same issues in Ridgewood with not just moms but dads as well. We've somehow lost the ability to discuss differing points of view without trying to "clip the wings" of the opposition or worse, trying to destroy their reputation. The name calling and nasty comments are especially bad on the blogs where people can comment anonomously. In this environment it is difficult as a community member to stand up in front of the Bd of Ed or Village Council and speak your mind, let alone run for office! I agree that we should encourage people to get involved and create an environment where differing opinions are welcomed so that our institutions can come up with the best solutions to the myriad of problems facing us today.
Bob Mc January 20, 2012 at 11:43 PM
I applaud those with the courage to voice their opinions, especially in open forums like PTO meetings. Surely we need more people that are willing to participate in vigorous and civil discussions. However, that courage needs to be tempered with a healthy dose of prudence. Just because you *have* an opinion does not in any way make it relevant or applicable to anyone but yourself. Identifying such behavior as “being honest” can also be interpreted as a euphemism for “being incredibly inconsiderate”. I champion honesty over sycophancy but it has to be accompanied by some graciousness. While I’m a firm supporter of freedom of speech there’s a fine line between voicing an opinion and acting like a boor, a distinction of which more people should be aware. Frequently that is why someone gets tagged with the moniker “big mouth” rather than because they’re a misunderstood freedom fighter. So by all means let’s speak our minds but remember that in many cases it’s just an opinion – and it could be wrong or even hurtful.


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