I heard those words first as a child when I tried to sass my Mom and it was usually followed by ‘young lady’ (another phrase used only when I was in trouble, oh oh). And I heard it way more when I was a rebellious teenager.
Then I heard it as advice from my Mom and other more experienced women as I began my time as a wife. Hold your tongue and keep the peace were common admonitions for women of the 50s and earlier. I guess they thought that
peace at almost any price was worth it to keep their lives on a smooth course as they navigated the sometimes choppy waters of marriage.
I rarely subscribed to their thoughts and my course was rarely smooth, but I didn’t forsake my principles. Well, mostly I didn’t. It seemed that as I grew older and more experienced myself, I learned my Mom’s wisdom a bit, but
only a bit.
Then, very recently, I heard the phrase used in an entirely new context.
I told a very close friend of mine that I had ended a short relationship with ‘the new guy’ and she said “Oh I’m so glad! I didn’t think he was right for you and I held my tongue because I didn’t want to say anything to influence your choices”. She held her tongue out of love for me, out of caring. Out of friendship, sisterhood.
Her act of caring made me realize how very kind and nurturing we women can be for each other. When I think about it, I realize that I too have held my tongue with other friends of mine. When a friend of mine started dating again and was full of rules and expectations, I held my tongue. When my daughter disciplines her daughters, I hold my tongue (but oh that’s hard). When my little old mother used to vent about her wonderfully generous neighbour, I held my tongue. I love all these people and by holding my tongue I’m respecting their choices.
OK, I’ll admit there have been plenty of times when I didn’t hold my tongue; I’m still working on it! And I do think sometimes that people need to hear what I have to say; they need to let me give them my opinion; they need to
honour my thoughts too.
I’m not my mother and I don’t hold my tongue to keep the peace. I’m more dedicated by giving my friends and family the thoughts I have that may help them. And sometimes you know, something’s just so outlandish that I have to
speak up. Come ON.
So this idea of holding my tongue out of love is a pretty new concept to me. And it’s one that I’m going to try harder to embrace, to make a part of me, to show my kids and my friends sometimes how much I love them too. To show
myself also that sometimes, silence is golden.