The magic of quiet

Thursday, August 22, 2013

On Wednesday afternoon, Gemma took a late nap and Greyson and I went out on the tractor to mow a part of our mountaintop yard.  Shortly after finishing a section, some storm clouds started rolling in and Grey's sleepy eyes started closing - so we stopped and I carried him in the house and he whispered, "I want to lay on the couch for a little bit."

not from this wednesday, but still the same pose
And it has been quiet in our house for the past 2 hours.
both kids are sleeping.
both dogs are sleeping.
blissfully quiet.

I made myself a cup of green tea and sat myself down at my computer to read beautiful blog posts and search beautiful pins and eat a chocolate no-bake.  An actual proper afternoon tea with a teacup saucer and everything.  It was magical.

It got me thinking about the various kinds of quiet that you come to recognize only as a Mum.  There are the quiets like I had this afternoon and the ones I cherish every morning.  It's wonderfully quiet, but somehow through the creaks of the house you can faintly hear the soft breaths of your family sweetly sleeping.  They are all here, in this house, safe and happy, and quiet.  Its the most wonderful sort of quiet that exists.

Then there's the naughty quiet.  The one that Mums, in the middle of an adult conversation, will suddenly stop talking and announce, 'wait - where are the kids?  It's too quiet.'  And then she'll actually get up and leave the room - which in all other instances would be totally uncouth, but everyone knows that its not in this scenario.  Because even non-parents recognize the naughty quiet.  If there are awake kids in the house and they aren't making noise; they're up to no good.  The thing about the naughty quiet is that you only recognize that it exists when its already too late - and you're half afraid to even go check on them because you know you'll have to clean up a mess.

87 copies out of the printer/scanner?  Why, yes please.
There is also the quiet exists when you're kids are not home.  It's sort of an eerie quiet and you catch yourself in momentary panics thinking you forgot one of them was in time-out or you need to check to see if anyone needs a snack.  It's an efficient quiet where you bustle around the house trying to accomplish a million things before the kids come barging back through the front door with their stomping muddy boots and over-excited voices recapping the day's events.  This sort of quiet always feels hurried and lonely to me.  I am glad for the quiet, but always missing the loud in some sort of sad little way.

A few weeks ago, we were playing at our best friend's house with her two children.  So that's four kids under the age of 4 playing loudly, occasionally sharing, and talking nonsense to each other.  We had just busily hustled around the kitchen getting all four of them fed, wiping up spills, and tearing pizza into tiny pieces.  After they finished the three big ones headed out to the back deck (visible from the huge picture windows next to the kitchen table, and Kate and I finally sat down to eat our lunch.  We both let out a sigh and before we started to eat we sneakily looked around and huge smiles grew across our faces.  We just squeezed our eyes shut and raised our glasses:  quiet.

Motherhood has brought lots of new-found respect for things that before becoming a mother I rarely noticed.  But something about the sound of quiet has really been a surprise for me as something I am fully aware of as a Mum.  As a young mum, there is a constant noise running in the background for the  Cartoon theme songs, toys with buzzing sounds, little feet zipping barefoot through the halls, things falling down, toilets flushing (even when no one has used it), doors slamming, kids whining, kids giggling, kids crying, and insistent demands for questions that have no answers like 'But why is it called hummus?'  It's just a constant stream of noises and sounds that it becomes similar to white noise on a sound machine.  And only now, as a Mum, has the absence of noise become both blissful and unsettling.  And someday those loud kids are mostly grown, I imagine the quiet will then be deafening - and only because I was once a young mum who had so little quiet.

But for now, the magical spell of the quiet is quickly broken when the dogs start barking, or I hear a little whimper from the bedroom.  Or someone sleepily comes down the stairs to me and says, 'Mum, I was sleeping and now I'm happy.'  The quiet quickly slips out of our house not to return until early tomorrow morning, but I won't miss it too much until then because for now, there are booboos to kiss and giggles to share, and why?questions to find answers for, and whines to be patient with, and 'i love yous' to whisper, and a whole lot of noise to be made.

And all that commotion is really the only reason I even remember to cherish the quiet in the first place.

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