Do you hear that?
(I know you can't hear it but I'm smiling just the same.) Do you know what that sound is?
Perfect. Rapturous. Silence.
For the next twenty five minutes I get to sit in my own home in complete quiet.
Did I mention that it isn't even 2pm? Daylight is flooding into all of the windows and French doors of this house. I just heard a noise outside and had to pinch myself with happiness when I realized it was only the sound of the wind blowing leaves around our back patio.
I could dance for joy, or perhaps tiptoe.
Silence is the most important thing that I have lost since becoming a stay-at-home mother and ILOVEIT IMISSIT ILOVEIT. I never realized before I lost the silence just how amazing it really was. I didn't know how much I needed quiet to re-center myself on bad days, or that I did my best thinking and dreaming in perfect stillness.
With five and three year old boys and a raucous little baby princess now on the scene, silence is in short supply around our house. Even in the middle of the night, children are screaming, snuffling, whining, chatting or talking in their sleep. My husband actually loves background noise and he's the kind of guy that will turn on NPR while he works or reads just for 'company' but not pay attention to what the voices are saying. Sometimes I'll come in when he has it on and ask him about the event or story they've just discussed, and he responds: "I don't really know, I was't paying attention". He just likes the chatter and hum of the voices and melodies.
I am therefore the ONLY person in our house who currently values silence, craving it and going to extreme lengths to score myself another hit of tranquility. (What? You can take ALL THREE kids to the park for an hour? Have I mentioned that you are my *favorite* grandparent?)
Silence is glorious!
Right now I feel like my brain is resting. Here is a brief list of what I *don't* hear right now:
- Crying, whining, complaining, fussing, yelling, shrieking, tattling, roaring, running, slamming, ripping, hysterical giggling, crashing, remote control cars, Handy Manny workshops, LeapFrog computers, business telephone calls, the Discovery Channel, Olivia and Caillou...
Sudden quiet during the daytime is unfortunately typically not a good thing - when it gets too quiet around here my husband and I have learned from experience that this is usually a RED ALERT signal that our children are getting into mischief and are possibly in danger. When our children are quiet, something is probably wrong. (Examples ~ cutting their own hair with cuticle scissors, filling up the bathtub with themselves in it, drawing in marker on the walls, stealing chocolate from daddy's stash, covering themselves with temporary tattoos and stickers.)
I once read about a man who tried to sail solo around the world and his mother described how he was a quiet-loving guy who used to walk around the house wearing ear plugs when his children were small. I had a visceral reaction to reading about how he craved silence: "I TOTALLY GET IT."
I stay awake every night after my husband goes to sleep, just to get an hour or two of perfect peace. Those are actually my favorite hours of the day -- the quiet ones when my family is sleeping peacefully just feet away from where I sit. I can adore them and be grateful for them (secure in the knowledge that all of my little chickadees are sleeping safely in our nest) but still have a little bit of mental space.
I can vaguely remember, about ten years ago as a single girl, feeling like my apartment at the time was way too quiet. That stillness wasn't peaceful; but rather lonely. The mention of phrases like, "Do I hear the pitter patter of little feet?" might at that time have brought a lump to my throat as I cooked dinner for one every night and wondered whether I would ever know the joy of hearing my own children scampering around the house.
For this reason, I'm not really complaining. I've got it good and the loss of silence is a price well worth paying for the life I'm lucky enough to lead.
However, 'scampering' and 'pitter-pattering' turn out to be a bit of a joke. The only pitter pattering I am likely to hear in this house might be the sound of my 20 month old daughter carefully scattering her father's cold coffee in little brown drops all over his laptop computer keyboard. Pitter. Patter. Pitter. Patter.
"Mama, UH OH! gigglegigglegigglegigglegiggle".
"Honey.....? What are you doing? Are you being naughty?"
"YEEEEAAAAAAH!" (She scampers away gleefully.)
Oh well. So much for silence ;-)