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Archive for January, 2011

I know that supposedly, there’s going to come a time when my kids won’t need me every ten seconds. When they will stop shouting “come with me” before every task and try, in fact, to do things without me. When they will actually want–nay, demand–THEIR SPACE. This is very, very hard to imagine when your kids are two and five and love their parents with a passion bordering on desperation. Chaotic, noisy desperation.

Boy, kids sure have a lot to say

If you’re like me, you never realized what a precious commodity quiet was until you had young kids. (Where, WHERE, is the volume control on these little humans??) While I don’t think of myself as a particularly quiet person, I have come to see how much I crave stillness now that it has been taken away from me and virtually banished from my home. It seems that every time I look down, someone is hanging on to my leg and demanding that I act like a mermaid. Every time I turn my back, someone has run into the coffee table and started wailing. Every time I try to sneak over to the couch with a glass of wine at the end of a long day, two girls alternately climb on my head and yell into my ear about who has more lap space and why it isn’t fair. Some days, it makes the idea of a mindless factory job making widgets while wearing earplugs seem wildly appealing. Eight hours of that sounds so…peaceful.

But then, if it weren’t for the riot of a couple of strong-willed, strong-lunged little girls in my house, how would I ever appreciate the quiet that I took utterly for granted before? How would I come to savor the sweet bliss of five minutes where no one wants anything, no one complains or cries, no one licks my face and laughs maniacally about it? If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I mean. There are those moments where you and your partner lock eyes over the heads of your silent-for-now kids and share a knowing smile that says: See, we’re getting there. They are entertaining themselves quietly. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We must be awesome parents!

That appreciation of the small miracle of silence was never more apparent to me than one particular night over the holidays. Racked with various kindergarten-derived illnesses, Christmas “break” at our house had been full of visitors, friends, laundry, and antibiotics. Everyone was stir-crazy and snappish, especially at dinnertime. So instead of hustling everyone through their paces per usual, we ordered sushi (a family favorite), let everyone eat in the living room, loosened the usual bedtime, and put the new Ryan Bingham CD, Junky Star, on the stereo. And for some reason, no one whined that they wanted Disney Princess Sing-Along Songs. No one even fought about my lap. Everyone finished eating, found their own space under various blankets on the couch, and was…quiet. That’s the memory of the holidays that I choose to take along with me into the new year: a slow, raspy ballad on the stereo, my warm family on the couch, a belly full of hamachi, and everyone enjoying a moment’s peace. Who knows, maybe even my daughters got a little taste of how sometimes, it’s good (restorative, enjoyable, necessary, wonderful) to be still.

One can hope.

Tell me: How do you carve out moments of stillness and silence in your life? I’d love to hear (especially if it doesn’t involve getting up at 5:30a.m. to achieve it, but okay, you can tell me that, too).

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