It was quiet. Too quiet. I came home last night and found the house still. Very still. Too still. My husband had been watching the kids but all the lights were out. The car was not in its usual spot in the driveway.
Hello? Is anybody home? Where in the world would he have taken six small children? And more importantly, why?? Thoughts of an ER waiting room flashed through my head and I quickly dialed my hubby’s cell. Phew. All was well. They were down at the church shooting hoops in the cultural hall.
Then it occurred to me, this was the first time I had ever been all alone in this house. Not even a sleeping baby in the next room. Just completely alone. If I had ever been completely alone in the old house, I don’t remember it. That’s just life when you have a baby every other year for 12 years.
You’d think I would’ve savored the solitude. Perhaps even collapsed on the bed and finally crack open the new book I’ve been dying to start. Or at the very least enjoyed a steaming hot shower while there was no one around to pound on my bathroom door to ask what’s taking me so long?
But I couldn’t. Surprisingly, I didn’t like the silence. You’d guess with how many times a day I hiss, “You don’t need to shout!” and “Shhhh!! The baby is sleeping!” I’d relish the peace and quiet. But instead, the quietude was disconcerting. Off putting. Cold.
The other day my 10 year old daughter told me, “Mom, do you know what my favorite sound is? I love to hear your sandals flip flopping on the kitchen floor and your keys jingling in your hands because it means we’re all about to pile in the van and have an adventure.”
Then it hit me. I was missing my favorite sounds. All those sounds that anyone else would call a cacophony, in that moment felt like a forgotten symphony.
The startling jolt of excitement I feel when the garage door finally groans opens heralding the arrival of my man is the best. The creak of the dishwasher door means we just enjoyed a meal together and the kitchen will soon be clean. The baby crying, well, as grating as that sound can be at 2am, means we have a baby!
In fact, that is my all-time favorite sound: The very first cry of a brand new baby. I can’t think of another sound that makes me hold my breath just waiting for it, and then summons a deluge of happy tears when it pierces the room at last. And not just the lusty cries of my own infants. I can’t watch “Call the Midwife” without a box of tissues.
“Quit it!!” “Mooo-oom!!” “Where are my shoes??!!” “I’m out of toilet paper!!!!” won’t be hollered by such high squeaky voices much longer. All too soon I fear those phrases will be traded in for deep throaty “Whatevers” and ” Sups.”
The clink-clank of setting out six bowls in the morning means all my babies slept safely through the night. The metallic pang of the basketball hitting the tiled floor means the boys are home. The soft little snore of a 4-month-old means I finally get to write. Well, after I fold this pile of laundry.
So I did what any exhausted mother would do. I jingled my keys and flip-flopped down there, of course. My most favorite sounds echo in the cavernous space of the cultural hall. I couldn’t afford to miss that.
Read more by Margaret Anderson at www.jamandpickles.wordpress.com