“Kids, stop fighting with each other and please stop the whining!”
It was at least the fourth time I had asked the kids to keep it down in the past hour and I could feel my frustrations boiling.
As the mother of four young children, this is not a new experience. My kids seem to exist in a continuous state of loud and frustrating, par for the course, I guess. It’s not unusual to find my patience dwindling as the day goes on, the work piles up, and their voices get louder.
“Stop touching me,” my oldest boy screams to my second daughter, who’s trying to get a rise out of him even after my warning. The television volume is turned up too high for my comfort, blaring another children’s show I can’t stand. The baby is cooing in the corner next to a pile of laundry that’s waiting to be folded and put away. The sound of mismatched piano keys are coming from the next room as my daughter tries to teach herself how to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the iPad. Silence and peacefulness are rare around here, but with four spirited children in the house, you’re probably not surprised.
I remember a time about eight years ago, when I was sitting in my quiet house, all alone. I could hear the hum of the refrigerator in the next room, the floor was tidy, no sight of scattered LEGO to step on, and I didn’t have to sit through an ear-piercing TV show for the sake of someone else’s entertainment. There were no piles of endless laundry taking up floor real estate in every room, and my day was spent conversing with adults who didn’t burst into tears when a peanut butter sandwich was sliced the “wrong” way.
I had just gone through my second miscarriage and wondered if my dream of parenthood would ever come true. Hoping that the noise of everyday life that comes with having children was going to be a part of my future, but not knowing if it ever would be. The silence in my childless house was a constant reminder of what I was missing.
As the years went on and pregnancies came and went – some making it to term and others not, I connected with other families who were on a similar path: longing for children with the fear it might not happen. Listening to their stories, hearing their pain, dreams, and hopes – some eventually having children and others not, I learned so much. There were families whose hearts and arms ached to hold their baby who died. There were families who were told repeatedly they would never experience the joy of a healthy full term pregnancy. There were families who went on to give birth or adopt or some combination in between. And there were families who would never experience the joy, and yes, the noise that others consider an everyday annoyance.
This noise, this mess, and these frustrations – how grateful I am for each one.