Monday, December 03, 2007

Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?

This week, the noise of full-time parenting is getting to me. I don't mean the cartoons on TV or the clomping of shoes throughout the house, or even the banging of utensils on the kitchen table.
I mean the talking. The incessant, inane talking. I got to the point today where I actually asked my daughter, "Will you please stop talking to me for a minute?" She wants us to be in conversation all the time. My end of the conversation would seem to be unstimulating, as it consists mainly of such bon mots as "Mmm," "Oh, yeah?" and "I see." Yet Audrey laps up even this minimal attention as if it were mother's milk. Which, I suppose, it kind of is. But giving her actual mother's milk, way back when, was just so much...quieter.

Once I read, in some other magazine, a deconstruction of what makes Martha Stewart Living such an attractive magazine to women. It's not just the hearkening back to a simpler time when all housewives knew how to bake bread, blah, blah, blah. Mainly it is the photographs. The photographs feature lovely objects bathed in calming natural light, and they tend to be free of people. The scenes look cool and inviting, like one could just sit down at that white linen-dressed table, sniff the fresh lilacs spilling out of the pewter jug, and enjoy one's hot beverage from a vintage coffee mug. In silence.

That's SAHM porn, right there.

In this month's Esquire, Tom Chiarella writes an article about what happens when he stops chatting to everyone he meets during the day. (See the entire article here.) His conclusion is that silence affords him more power. Silence not only allows him to contain his own personal power rather than letting it leak out through his mouth all the time, but the people he encounters cede him a little something extra. By being quiet, he gains the upper hand.

This may be the case with valets at restaurants in LA, as Chiarella illustrates, but it for sure doesn't work around my house. Here's what my silence provokes: "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy did you hear me?" Alternatively, my darlings may choose to just repeat their question or comment more loudly. As if I were deaf. It makes a lot more noise.

Still, I appreciated reading a man's point of view on this subject. Had this been an article in, say, Cosmo or Allure, the title would have been something like, "His Silence: What it Means." There would be a photo above the article showing a hot man wrapped in a bathrobe, sitting on a sofa, staring at his laptop screen. On the opposite end of the sofa would be a woman in pajamas, leaning toward the man and furrowing her beautiful brow. (Obviously this woman has no children. In a parenting magazine, this article would be called, "Silence: How to Get Some.")

Sometimes when I seem particularly irritated at the end of a day, my husband will ask me if it's been a hard day with the kids. Today, no, it hasn't been hard.

Just noisy.


nbp said...

did you use the title of the raymond carver book as the title for your post on purpose?

also... read it if you haven't.


susie said...

You know me too well.

Anonymous said...

Again, we are in synch with our SAHM moments. I was just telling a friend yesterday that I just want even 10 minutes of silence during the middle of the day. Am I asking too much?

It's 1:30 p.m. and I'm tired after the frantic morning rush of getting everyone off to school or their activities, play dates, etc. I've run my errands with two kids in tow, made lunch, cleaned up the lunch mess, checked email, returned a couple of phone calls, vacuumed and folded a load of laundry. The house is in order, I get my son down for a nap and am I feel I've earned a moment's peace.

I get my daughter some art supplies and I sit down with a cup of tea and a book. I just want my 10 minutes. She proceeds with "Mom, is pink your favorite color? Who's busier God or Santa"? This won't stop.

I've finally resorted to a timer set for 10 minutes where she is instructed to stay upstairs and play quietly until it rings and to not come downstairs unless there is blood. It is my sanity.

Then I have to remind myself this is the season of my life now, and although not necessarily peaceful, it is full. It's a fleeting moment in the scheme of life. Someday, when I'm in a different season, I know I'll miss the chaos, the little arms around the neck, the snuggles and that I'm their favorite person in the world.

I will, however, truly appreciate the silence and peace though.

susie said...

What a beautiful comment! Thanks, Anonymous! I especially like, "Don't come down unless there's blood." Gotta use that sometime.