There’s nothing more terrifying as a mother than listening to your kids do nothing. You’re washing dishes, you cock an ear and…nothing? Sure enough, junior’s eating potting soil again. Or that time when you oversleep your alarm, you wait for the toddler’s squawk and…nothing? It’s bad enough that she’s playing in toilet water–how did she get out of that crib?! (Hint: Woombies go up to 25 lbs.) But you know, sometimes silence isn’t so bad. Sometimes it’s good enough to make me cry.
My younger daughter is sixteen months old. She’s a wild-child maniac baby with boundless energy that she cheerfully channels into all kinds of mischief (see above for examples). She’s also still nursing on-demand, and we sleep together. So between her and my preschooler, who’s home most of the time and often clamoring for my attention to her latest ballerina-princess-babysitter serenade, I get a little touched out if I don’t get my own quiet time. The afternoon nap hour is sacred, especially since maniac baby doesn’t always get the memo, but I try to use that time to work or take care of house stuff on the computer or phone–so it’s not really quiet-quiet, all the way. It’s not until the evening, past the hullaballoo of bedtime, that I have a chance to appreciate the sounds of good-nothing.
What does good-nothing sound like at our house? Some low patter and rumbles–my husband tapping buttons on his Xbox controller while I type, or the dryer humming her last load. Some creaks and taps–twigs brushing the windows, or the stairs settling down for the night. Some snuffles and sighs–our girls snoring at each other from across the room, just out of unison. This one’s my favorite. It’s nice to chill with good ol’ DH and feel the nighttime closing in around our family, but even in these precious moments of as close to silence as we get, even as my brain detoxes from another aurally saturated day overflowing with stories, songs, discipline, and the silliness of make-believe, my quiet-craving heart can’t help but skip a beat at the little sounds made by the two noisiest noise-makers of my life.
Snack and book in hand, I pause at the threshold and lean in. One inhales, exhales. One exhales, inhales. Again, and again. A yawn, a rustle, a sigh. Rolling over. I like to imagine that they’re dreaming of each other, sisters making mischief together, cavorting in the endless opportunity of a mutual dream. I can’t help myself, and slip inside. I give a kiss to each, tuck the blanket away from the baby’s face. And by the time I ninja-sneak out the door to retrieve my evening and check in with the paternal unit, my heart is full of the sounds of their silence, and I’m ready for another day.
I know I’m lucky and blessed to have my girls here, and to enjoy the full range of their exuberance. That said, I still need to hear them be quiet for me to love their loud.