Deafening Silence A Very Real Chapter

You never get used to a quiet house.

My wife and I love our time together, but as our kids continue to grow – one already off to college and the other in high school – we still feel as if something is missing when we’re in the house alone. Almost as if emulating the old tale of a soldier reaching down to scratch a leg lost in the war years ago, we expect a noise to come from another room reminding us we’re not alone in the house.

Kids are forever. Ask any parent. From the moment they come into this world and first open their eyes, you commit your life to being within an arm’s length years to come. And to a parent who truly understands the relationship, this is not a burden. In fact, you never seem to want it to truly end.

But, as my wife and I are discovering, kids grow increasingly eager to pull the ripcord and jump from the nest.

Last week, with our son home from college and his sister making our home full, we couldn’t have felt any better. Yes, we’ve somewhat adjusted to his moving away years ago. But truth be told, my wife, daughter and I found ourselves creating a ‘new normal’ in his absence. It was like replacing a member of the ‘band’.

But while swimming in a pool of holiday warmth last week, my wife and I one day found ourselves alone in the house as both kids were out with friends. Not that this is so rare, I think we were both a bit sensitive to the moment after finding ourselves back in our old form – that is the entire band together again. The silence was actually deafening. I could hear the heater kick on and a clock in the other room obediently ticking off time. And, if we listened closely enough, we could actually hear each other breathe as we sat next to each other on the sofa.

As I get older I believe I better understand how my mother-in-law felt when all her kids, grandkids, and family showed up for dinner – filling her house to the point of nearly bursting at the seams. Being as she was from a large family and then raised five herself, she probably never adjusted to the sound of a quiet house. To her, no matter how many years would pass, the normal was always a knock on a wall, a chair falling over in another room or hearing the refrigerator closing in the kitchen. For her over ninety percent of her days were spent living among living among the sounds of life. And as living as a widow, there could never be too many guests to drown out the silence.

I’ll admit, I’ve always thought about how nice it would be like to have a quiet house. Granted, I was probably in the midst of running kids from one soccer practice to gymnastics all the while grabbing dinner in a drive-through. But if there is one thing this holiday season is teaching me it is to appreciate the noise. The quiet, once it arrives, can be deafening.

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