Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Quiet is so difficult to catch these days. Though I have been chasing after it with both hands reaching, aching, it has kept stubborn to my horizon and I worry that when I finally do catch hold of it I will have thus inadvertently let go of what is most dear, and left the cacophonous labor of mothering young children behind me forever, the knob knees, sticky hands, velvety warm full-cheeked wide-eyed faces no longer conveniently available about my hips for immediate pestering by my constant barraging kisses, no longer valid my prime all-access pass to wrap my babies up at any moment into these ever-needy arms until whole-bodied belly giggles turn eventually to Ugh but Mama wet go uv meee!
I do let go, regretfully, but only in pleading faith that I will have arms full again, soon, shortly, preferably......now.
Quiet is as basic to my existence, though, as sunlight, fresh breezing air, and chilled water in a familiar glass. It is not essential, maybe. Possibly, I can survive without quiet. Without it, though, after too long in the chaos, a claustrophobia sets in. I gasp for time and choke for an empty house, thrashing against the noise until they want to leave, to take their racket to a more welcoming venue, the park, the hamburger joint, school. The door shuts behind them at last, and I turn out the artificial lights, crack a window, pour chilled water into a familiar glass.
Chaos - the chaos of my life, at least - is beautiful, and vital. It IS my life, and I know that. I never had it so good as I do now, with peanut butter in the fibers of the good wool rug, grapes rolled forgotten under the sofa, and snot wiped in sneak attack streaks on the sleeve of my black sweater. The stress of a two-hour bedtime battle which caps a long skirmish-riddled day is singularly undone by one contented sigh escaped the instant my fingers begin their sure lullaby along her neck, her back, my own possession of mother's touch both winning the battle and losing the war, utterly and completely, again, as I am now and will be forever at the bidding of that single guileless sigh.
I may gasp for quiet. I may dream of it and long for it, float in it when I have it and calculate it when I don't. But chaos is my choice. Again and again, I will live here in chaos with full and willing heart. Give me blue toothpaste on the bathroom walls, glitter in the coffee table slats, sandy shoes on the sofa cushions, and hourly full-steam panic over lost toys red ants helicopters dropped toilet paper broken crayons. Ask me for another snack, another sippie, another TV show, another bedtime story. Ask me to moderate one more argument between you and your sister over whether the aqua crayon is blue or green. Ask me another thoughtful question about the universe, then interrupt my answer again with an equally earnest request to eat candy for dinner. You may use my sweaters as tissues and my best heels for outdoor pretend tea parties if that is the price of admission for me to be around you, near you, with you. I pay it willingly, and I am gleeful because I know I am getting the most ridiculous bargain.
Today I had a welcome gust of quiet. No, I haven't captured it. It was, instead, (as usual), more akin to visiting a dear friend during their fleeting airport layover, eyes always on the time, anxiety over the schedule - the quality of the visit pressed hard against the ticking of the second hand - always that terrible anxiety lurking along the periphery. I know I won't see any more of quiet this week. But still, even so, how do you think I spent those precious hours I had?
Why, I spent them talking about you.