As a child, I loved the peace and quiet of being alone. Having been told that I would never have children of my own, I expected to spend my adult life in that blissful silence. But God had other plans for my life, for so much of it has been spent surrounded by the noise of children and grandchildren, such beautiful sounds that touch the heart and make us feel grateful for the wondrous noise of motherhood.
Admittedly, I had to get used to the constant hum of children playing and the questions from five inquisitive little ones. What’s that? Why not? Are we there yet? What time is it? What’s for dinner? What do dinosaurs, monkeys, unicorns, etc., eat? Can I have….? Why are you holding your head like that? Do you have a headache? So many questions?
But, I loved it! There was never a dull moment when the children were home, as noise surrounded me when I woke up in the morning. I have a great set of lungs today from the daily shouting at children to get up for school, and I have bad ears from the constant screaming of five different personalities in perpetual conflict.
I thought I had found shangri-la when they finally moved out and there weren’t any more requests for me to referee between people who seemed to relish disagreements. No more make him/her stop looking at me; or it’s not my night to wash dishes, take out the trash, clean the bathroom, etc.; or she’s has on my sweater and I haven’t even worn it yet; or where’s my homework. I think that loved my job because of the peace and silence there. I was free from the noise for 8-10 hours, and as I prepared to go home each day, I trembled at the cacaphony that awaited me at home.
I thought that I would not miss it, but when the last child left home, I was confronted with a silence so deafening that I felt compelled to fill it with music, television, or the radio. The silence made me feel useless and without purpose. I longed to hear one fight or their music, for it would mean that they were still where I could hold them in protection and safety from a world that mothers never think their childrren are ready to enter.
And the silence lasted a few years until grandchildren were born. All of a sudden, their homes were filled with the crying of children, and they wanted me to come help them because the noise was running them crazy! They asked, “How did you deal with the noise of five of us when I cannot cope with just one screaming and throwing a tantrum?” I told them not to complain about the noise, for too soon, it would gone and they would miss it! Take it from me, you will miss it!
Then, praise be to God, the grandchildren grow up, and here comes the questions again! Hooray! Blessed noise!
Then, parents and children shouting at each other during holiday visits, and me taking the side of the grandchildren, screaming at their parents, “Don’t you whip them!” And my children screaming right back,”Why do they get away with things you used to whip us for?” Oh, blessed noise!
How I loved the noise! It signaled the most precious of gifts: the blessing of children and grandchildren. It is a noise that touches our hearts and reminds us all of what is good about being blessed to be mothers and, especially grandmothers. Yes, constant noise is the background of motherhood, and it is music to our ears, for it signifies that life continues, with generations intersecting and growing together.
This past Thanksgiving Day, my oldest daughter’s house was filled with four generations of our family. As the matriarch, I sat at the table, listening to the conversations, surrounded by the hum of voices so dear to me. And of course, so much noise, as people cheered for their favorite football team, generating arguments, and requests for me to intervene. And, oh, the crying and fits of great-grandchildren, whose parents are at their wits’ end. But, I kept silent, for it is now the next generation who must be the referees, sorting out disagreements and sooting bruised egos, to reduce the noise level in the home.
Douglas and I left early, mainly because with the introduction of alcohol, I became the biggest noisemaker of all, and not in a good way, as I screamed at children and grandchildren that one beer was enough, or spent time reminding everyone of the tendency for alcoholism to run in the family. As the noise level increased, I knew it was time to go home, for the noise that you loved in your twenties and thirties, or even in your forties, can become unbearable in your sixties, especially the new-fangled music that my ears cannot abide.
Yet, the noise signifies that life continues and that the constant hum of life is still the music of motherhood. Appreciate it while your children are still at home, because before you know it, there is the silence of an empty nest. But, praise God, the next generation eventually will fill the noise void! Thank you, Jesus!