Monday, March 17, 2014

Enjoying Quiet Time in an Often-Noisy House

My house is often noisy. There's always something going on. With six people in and out all the time (some more in than others), there's always activity. It may be the TV or other electronics, a bass or guitar being strummed or picked, someone crying, screaming, or laughing, feet stomping across the wood floor as the five-year-old dashes to the bathroom or the two-year-old goes looking for Mommy or Daddy. There's arguing and playing, running around, shrieks of joy or frustration.

And then, suddenly, between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m., usually, the noise stops. It ceases. It's stunning, really. When all four kids are sleeping, the TV is off, the tablets are silent, no one is crying, no one is yelling "Mommy?!!" from across the house, no one is asking for something, no one needs anything, it's so overwhelmingly quiet that sometimes I just sit and listen. I can hear the hum of the refrigerator, the thump of the heater coming on or going off, the white noise of the bathroom fan, gentle snoring from one of the kids, cars moseying by outside, the occasional dog barking. I can hear myself breathe.

The activity of the day is refreshing. It's lively. It's a testament to the excitement of a growing family and the buzz of things happening. It's brothers being brothers, babies being babies, people doing people things.

But when the activity stops, I am reminded of the value of silence, of how quiet helps me order my thoughts, calm my body, and process the day. Some days, even if I could sit and watch TV, I don't, because I'm enjoying the quiet too much. Even if I could pick up the phone and call someone, I don't, because I'm lost in the silence of the evening.

It also makes me appreciate when I can be alone in the car. That's the next-best place to find quiet, and it's most likely to happen when I have only the two youngest with me and they happen to both fall asleep as we drive. Then I turn off the music and listen to the noise of the road, the wind rushing past my window. I talk to myself. I think about what I might write for my next blog, about ways to handle new phases in my kids' lives, about food, about whatever I want.

When no one is asking me for things, needing me to intervene, wanting my attention, I can finally turn inward and enjoy my own thoughts, my own needs, my own interests.

These quiet times are like little bubbles of peace in a busy life. Take time to appreciate silence when you can.

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