By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
It’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m smiling because the house finally sounds like spring. It’s not the chirping of the birds or the gentle rustle of the breeze through newly budded leaves, either. It’s silence – beautiful, glorious silence.
Why is it so quiet around a house that’s been buzzing with activity and noise for the past six months? I’ll tell you why. The temperature finally climbed above 70 degrees today, and the kids and their father have abandoned the house for the great outdoors. Now and then I hear their muffled laughter through the windows, and I can see there’s a game of basketball in full swing on the driveway.
I love a 70-degree day as much as the next person, but today I’m enjoying the newly quiet house even more. It’s not that a house full of kid noise is a bad thing. It’s not. Anybody who has three kids on purpose knows her house is not going to sound like a library. But every now and then, a mom (and dad) needs a little peace. For me, the quiet stillness is renewing, energizing. For the first time in a while, I can hear myself think. I was beginning to wonder if that was still possible.
I sat in the living room for nearly two hours today, lounging in Tom’s recliner with the Sunday newspaper spread out around me. I read entire articles start to finish! I even fell asleep once or twice and had a little catnap. No one asked for a juice box. No one smacked his brother on the head. No one lost her Barbie’s shoe. It was amazing. When I tell you that the hours of silence, reading and napping felt more luxurious than chocolate, I mean it. And keep in mind I never met a piece of chocolate I didn’t love.
As the afternoon heated up, so did the spring festivities on the driveway. After my catnap, I looked outside and saw that the kids had changed into swimsuits and were chasing each other with water guns while their dad washed the car. Four-year-old Kate squealed while her brothers laughed maniacally after blasting her in the back with a cold stream of water. She refilled her weapon and chased them down to get revenge.
Our cat Percy seemed to be enjoying the quiet house nearly as much as I was. She stretched out full-length on the window seat with her eyes squinted in sleep and her front furry paws reaching upward into the sunlight streaming through the glass. I rubbed Percy’s belly and glanced out over the backyard, noticing that the neighbor’s house has already begun to disappear. In the fall, after the trees give up the last of their leaves, we can see the neighbor’s house, which is set back into the woods behind our home. But this time of year, it looks as though God is coloring a woodsy curtain between our houses. Several of the trees look like they’re sprouting flowery cotton balls, some of which blow away when the wind moves through the branches. The rest of the trees are full of tiny dots of vivid green and buds of pink and purple, which grow thicker and thicker until the neighbor’s home vanishes once again into springtime.
Like spring itself, the silence in the house won’t last forever, and that’s okay. Soon there will be a kitchen full of kids asking for snacks and giving me a play-by-play of their water gun war. Tom will come in and ask where the Windex is for the car washing project. Then it’ll be time to herd the kids upstairs for baths and stories and a string of stall tactics designed to delay bedtime. It’ll be busy and loud, as usual.
But I’ll be ready for it because today I had my own little “time-out” in a quiet space. I hadn’t even realized how much I’d needed it. An old proverb says that “Silence is golden.” But if you ask me, I’d say it’s a beautiful spring green.