My mom came over for lunch the other day and said, "It's so quiet in here. You don't turn on the TV?"
And the answer is no. Once my children leave for school, I spend most of my work day in complete silence. No music. No television. No phone except for the occasional conference call. If I go out to run errands, I leave the car radio off.
These long stretches of solitude help recalibrate my body and mind. Because when you think about it, our motherhoods all began with sounds that intensified over time, seeping into every nook and cranny of our beings.
It started with the beeping of hospital machines, onslaught of visitors, nurses barking instructions and shifting our breasts into gaping newborn mouths. Those infant cries that went on for months—tiny humans screeching into the world, crying so hard their arms and little fists shook with might.
The noise only magnifies as our children grow.
There have been temper tantrums, fights between siblings, wrestling that turned into wailing. Kid birthday parties of 20+ little ones where laughter and screaming seem to reach deafening roars that prevent you from paying attention to the parent who is patiently trying to hold a conversation.
The chaos that is par for the course of motherhood all feels very uncomfortable to me. I'm non-confrontational by nature, I hate crowds, and I feel awkward when I raise my voice. Even as a young girl, I'd retreat to my room to read or sneak away during big family parties and always preferred having two or three best friends over being part of a large group.
Ironically, I married a gregarious man whose normal speaking voice is SO LOUD, and we have two very talkative, energetic, highly excitable kids—exactly what happy, healthy children should be. But when all the noise dies down and I'm alone, I prefer to be quiet.
There's the silence that is productive.
It's answering work emails, writing, ordering groceries online, making all the beds in the house, and folding piles of laundry all with the grace of a motherly monk who's simply going through the motions without any external distractions.
There's the silence that is calming.
It's that rare trip to the spa or the nail salon or savoring a cup of tea outside on the deck where the only sounds you hear are birds and the wind. It's getting lost in a book that's so good you forget what time it is.
There's the silence that is empowering.
It's tackling a huge project, writing an email you've been putting off, strategizing a plan that could catapult a far-off dream into reality. It's finally booking that way-too-expensive trip to celebrate your ten-year wedding anniversary.
There's also the silence that is lonely.
It's that time of day when you start to really, really miss your kids and wonder what they're doing at that exact moment. It's the second you realize you haven't spoken to another human in six hours and you're starting to talk to yourself and think it'd be a good idea to call your best friend or husband or your mom.
And then they're home! Those loud, happy children.
They rush into the house, sharing stories about friends and fun school projects and a surprise performance by Red Grammer. Dumping their backpacks, hats and gloves at the front door, hungry for snacks, and wanting so badly to interact with you—the one person they've missed the most all day.
And thank God for this noise because it pulls you back—keeping you focused and clear minded and appreciative of your deliriously noisy and wonderful life.
For me, spending most of my day in silence is therapeutic. It's the equivalent of getting a good night's sleep or taking a long walk. It gives me the chance to recharge. So mama, find your equilibrium because it's within the balance of the light and the dark—the silence and the cacophony—that is your wonderful, beautiful life.