Stop and Appreciate the Silence
Growing up I was always struck by how many adults listened to the radio in their car quietly. It would drive me nuts to be in the backseat and not even be able to make out the song that was playing. As I came to an age of driving on my own I loved nothing more than to blare at full volume whatever music I was into at the moment, fully immersing myself in the emotion of the beat. I really could not comprehend why anyone would turn on an easy listening station and then have it so quiet you could still hear a pin drop over the melody.
Teenage me wanted to feel the music in my bones, I wanted to experience every part of life on full blast. Then I became a parent. In the earliest stages I would turn down the music so that naps could be had in the backseat, as to not bother the tiniest of humans for fear of waking them up. My boys are in full blown toddler mode now, competing to be heard in their world, which for me translates into a chorus of continual requests for Mom from the backseat. I feel easily overwhelmed by the noise anymore and am starting to truly appreciate the silence that I rarely hear. Moms, especially of newborns, often get described as over-touched by the end of the day, leaving little room for any physical contact with their spouse. That has been a very accurate way to describe me on many occasions over the last few years, but now I am starting to feel a new sense of over-noised. They boys NEVER STOP talking, even when there is a reprieve from one the other will start up, and so many days I just long for quiet.
It is 5 AM and I am out on my deck with nothing but my coffee, the sound of the world beginning to stir, and my keystrokes. The birds have not even awoken and I am grateful for the peace I feel writing under the full moon. It feels restorative, like I can breathe again, and I can’t imagine a better way to start my day. I have been starting to tailor some of my days around needing an audible break, and I love having a fully fenced in yard that I can send the boys into while I fold laundry. Yesterday I sat on the front porch and read a book while they took laps on their bikes and played every game imaginable with their neighbor friends. Don’t get the wrong impression: this was still a day full of the boys fighting and screaming about stumbling onto an ant pile which loved the taste of sticky boys, and squeals of joy over the cars that got traded and pleas for my attention, but it seemed less intense since I did not have to hear every bit of their day. Today we have multiple plans, and the noise will increase in my world, but the quiet moments like this should hold me over.
I still love to fully feel the world around me, and there are many days I love the chaos. The questions from my boys crack me up and give me a glimpse into how their minds work and that is a gift. My oldest is starting to have strong opinions about music and we often blast songs and have dance parties on the way to the grocery store and I love those moments too. My husband and I have started having our sitter, whom the boys adore, come once a week for two hours just to take the burden of putting them to bed off our plates. The relief that I feel enjoying a quiet workout or walk with just him, with no boys to keep track of or listen to has been so joyful. It is hard to put into words how nice it is to just be, to exist, with my husband in that time off. I don’t think we have even gone on a date during that time yet, but the time alone to focus on each other has been incredible. The space to be able to both have a free enough mind to think, at the same time, has allowed us the freedom to really refocus on our relationship and our life goals.
I once read somewhere that half of the value of breathing comes from exhaling the unprocessed air out, that just inhaling alone would be a waste. The idea that taking in good alone is not enough, that you also have to release the bad, has stuck with me in so many tough scenarios since I heard it. Allowing yourself the mental space to breathe requires that you take a moment to not only appreciate the good in your life, but to also evaluate what is not working as well. For me, those moments can’t come in the time after the boys go to bed, I am too exhausted at that point to have the capacity to think about anything of significance. When the boys go to bed I have spent my allotment of brain power and focus for the day, so having a release valve once a week, for even just an hour or two before bed, has shifted how I am able to process my world. That exhale I am able to take allows me the ability to take in more good.
It could be that a babysitter once a week, even for a short time is out of your reach right now, or that waking up early to enjoy some silence will always be interrupted by an early rising kiddo that smells your coffee (as is often the case here); but I encourage you to find some way to enjoy yourself outside of the noise of everyday life. I am trying to process the idea of self-care in real time here, and am finally starting to appreciate that it is not a mani-pedi every week, or any other extravagance that does nothing for me personally. Self-care is more about finding a moment to breathe and evaluate what is happening in your life. It is not a fix-all bandaid that will magically change your life, it is simply allowing yourself the grace to process how life is going; and if need be, how to fix the things that are not working.
The birds have awoken now, and the boys won’t be far behind, so I will end with this. Getting lost in the mundane everyday life seems inevitable as you age, and there are seasons where it will feel insurmountable; but there is a light at the end of all tunnels. You will never be able to see it if you don’t take the time to look up from your daily chaos and look for it. I fully believe that you will always find what you seek in this world, please look for the good. Don’t forget to stop and appreciate the small silences, even if that is just the time between getting the kids in their carseats and getting to the driver’s seat, it does not take much for a mom to reset!