A Revelation About My ‘Telephone Voice’ and Why You May Need to #RefreshYourFunny

Ever since we were dating, my husband used to tease me about my “telephone voice.”  This was the voice that he said I “put on” when I got on the phone.  I used to totally ignore him about that (still do), because I really and truly didn’t notice a change in the way I spoke during phone conversations.  Sure, I knew that I can get loud on the phone, or I can talk the other person to death – I’m a Leo after all – but even in those gregarious moments, I was still 100% Stacey, so what was the big deal?

That was until my eldest made a remark not too long ago.  I can’t remember her exact words, but we were heading to an event or activity and I was giving my usual: “Be polite. Look at people in the eyes when they are speaking to you. Don’t act crazy.” talk that I usually give on our way out.  And Chatterbox said something like: “Oh Mom, you just want to look good in front of your friends.” And she started mimicking me and using my…TELEPHONE VOICE!? It was high-pitched, and peppered with lots of laughter, and was all la-di-da and I nearly died on the spot.  Was it true? Did I appear to have a completely different personality once I got around other people? Of course, I immediately denied it and we went about our day, but that exchange has stuck with me.  I hate the idea that I might be coming across as putting on airs or inauthentic, in the eyes of those who are closest to me.  I’ve always thought of myself as extremely genuine and transparent and naturally happy, so where was this coming from?

I’ve since really started paying attention and here’s what I’ve noticed: my husband and my daughter are not entirely wrong.  The truth is, I’m tired. I’m often overwhelmed. Except nobody wants to hear that. I find myself having to put on a happy face a lot, when in fact my mind is racing with my my endless to-do list and eleven million stressors and, you get the picture.  But I’ve created this Happy Stacey persona and I feel compelled to live up to that. In fact, in the odd moments where I don’t convey Happy Stacey, the person I’m talking to has no idea how to process it. I can totally tell.  And so, I smile and laugh and keep on swimming.  It’s not to say I’m depressed or miserable, but everyday isn’t all roses for me, but for some reason I am programmed to mask it.

As part of my role as a blogger ambassador for the Foundation to Advance Alcohol Responsibility, I had the chance to hear an important talk given by Haley Kilpatrick, the Founder and Executive Director of Girl Talk.  She spoke to us about the ‘Mom Confidence Crisis’ and how it was affecting our daughters at the most pivotal times in their lives – ages 9 – 14 – when their self-esteem is either growing or taking a hit.  The premise of this Crisis is that moms are extremely inconsistent with their behavior and it becomes very confusing for young girls who are learning how to act by modeling their mothers.  In her research with young girls, she discovered that what they most wished they learned from their mothers was to:

Be Authentic and Know Your Core Values.

Recognize That Failures Are OK.

Recognize That Everyone Has a Different Journey. Don’t Judge.

Know That You Have to Ultimately Decide What You Want to Achieve.

Aim High and When You Achieve One Goal, Set Another.

The first one, as they say, hit me like a ton of bricks.  Me of all people should know the dangers of masking true feelings and acting like life is peaches and cream when it really isn’t.  I used to write about it all the time as a full-time working mother.  But apparently I wasn’t practicing what I preached.  The thing is – kids can see the discrepancies from a mile away; and they’re internalizing them.

It makes me wonder whether all of those phone calls that were happening in the background of my childhood, when my Granny was animatedly gabbing on the phone with her friends or when my Mom was on her weekly Sunday morning 2-hour call with her sister or cousin were taking place with them using their own versions of a Telephone Voice.  Here’s to my next phone call being full of heavy sighs and yelling about my carpal tunnel and the fact that I haven’t yet unpacked from my last trip.
I’m going to be so much fun to talk to!

This post was sponsored as part of my participation as a #TalkEarly blogger ambassador with FAAR, and all opinions expressed are my own.  What do your tweets, pins and posts say about your attitudes towards drinking?  If you’d like to join us this month as you reframe how you talk about alcohol, whether in-person or on social media, because your kids are paying attention and you don’t want to be inconsistent!, use the hashtag #RefreshYourFunny or pin an image to our board.

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  1. Justice Fergie says

    Aww thanks Kendra! LOL. And yes, boys are paying attention too – perhaps just a little later than girls are. Thanks for reading ;)

  2. says

    I am not a mom. But I can relate to consistently putting on thw happy face. We all want people to enjoy our company and enjoy talking to us. We dont want to be a downer. Also being honest about being tired and overwhelmed requires us to be volunerable and that is scary. I appreciate you for saying you often feel overwhelmed now I feel better about feeling that way too.

  3. Justice Fergie says

    Aw, thank you for this! It IS hard to be vulnerable. But I agree that it helps us all to feel human. Have a great weekend Arlett! xo

  4. says

    Kids. They always know how to hit you where it hurts :)

    But seriously, this is a good point and one that I hadn’t really thought about. It all goes back to the Dave Chappelle skit on “Keepin’ It Real…”

  5. says

    I can definitely relate. When folks ask me how I feel or how I’m doing, I usually give the standard party line. There are only few folks that I can tell really how it’s going. Most folks can’t handle knowing the true story of advanced cancer.

  6. says

    I agree with you Stacey. Many people are putting on their happy face when they are feeling just the opposite. I have learned to say to others that I am stressed or tired so people can understand that being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. Life is hard enough just with one person. I cannot imagine what type of person I would be if I was a mother. Hats off to you for your honesty. Jewel, I agree that most people cannot handle knowing the true story of advanced cancer. I watched my cousin go through it for the 2 weeks I was in town with her. It was hard for me to watch and to put on my “happy face” whenever I was around her. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Justice Fergie says

    we all need to do a better job of being more honest, Xina! i think it will help everyone involved.

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