I spend all day listening for sounds. The sound of a crying baby that signals the end of naptime, the dull thud that tells me that my baby has not quite mastered the art of sitting up, or the pitter-patter of little feet that tells me one of my older boys are on their way to find me so I need to finish eating that double chocolate brownie super-quick. All these sounds and more require me to jump into action at a moment’s notice, stop whatever I am doing and come to the aid of my little angels.
This listening gets even more intense after bedtime. If you don't have children you may have some sitcom-induced fantasy that bedtime simply involves turning out the lights and saying "Goodnight sweetie," and exiting stage right. If you do have kids, then you know that bedtime often requires hanging upside down in a crib, enacting some twisted version of Cirque de Soleil in an attempt to put down your sleeping baby without them knowing, and then exiting the room in slow motion, without breathing, while avoiding squeaky floor boards and musical toys. And did I mention you have to do all of this in the pitch dark? So needless to say, once those kids are finally asleep you are on high alert for any noise that may disturb them.
Now I love my husband, I really do. But he is noisy. He walks noisily. He opens doors noisily, he even sleeps noisily. And he just doesn't get it. He doesn't get why it bothers me when he empties the dishwasher minutes after my Cirque de Soleil / 007 Super-Spy Mission Impossible adventure is complete. He doesn't get why I insist on not latching our bedroom door at night because it makes too much noise when it is opened. And he certainly doesn't get why I love silence so much.
But for me, silence means that my children are safe. Silence means that everyone is feed, healthy, and comfortable. Silence means that I can finally enjoy (rather than inhale) that double fudge brownie. And most importantly, that end-of-the-day silence, to me, means that I am doing my job as a mom right.
When you are a mom, there are no compensation packages, no job evaluations, no bonuses or vacations to reward your hard work, so you are constantly trying to figure out if you are doing a good enough job. It is in the silent moments that you come to realize that while you may not be perfect, you are good enough. You may not always be able to keep them safe and happy, but they are safe and happy now, and that is something to be proud of.
So to all the husbands/friends/parents/telemarketers and door-to-door sales people that I may have offended over the past six years, I promise that I was not screening your calls, I simply had my ringer turned off. And that sign on the door that says “Shhh!” was not put there for anyone in particular but just as a general reminder. I don’t need peace and quiet all the time; I just want a piece of quiet once in a while.
That, and a good double fudge brownie.