I have five active kids who span 15 years between the oldest (B was born in August 2000) and youngest (Baby was born in November 2015). When they were all living here at home, it was often a bit loud and crazy. I have fond memories of my oldest girls rehearsing for one of their musicals in the living room while I’m making dinner and helping the middle two with homework, and Baby is singing while he helps me. LOTS of noise at one time. It is often difficult to get a private conversation in. I’m sure there are times each of the kids felt like they were being ignored. I have perfected the art of tuning out life around me. Often, I get stuck in my head.
Sound of Silence
With all the noise (although it was mostly good and happy), I’ve come to value those quiet moments. Where the sounds I hear are the fridge running, the house settling, and my ears ring with the humming my own body makes. Do you know what I’m talking about? No? Try it for just a minute. Get to where there is no sound and focus in on the sound of your lungs filling up with air. Listen to the quiet ticking of your heart pumping blood through your veins. Listen to the hum of yourself just being. Hold those sounds for five minutes.
For me, there is a cleansing and a rejuvenation that happens in those five minutes. Or ten breaths depending on how many littles I happen to have rambling through the house at that moment. In that silence, I can stop the constant narration that runs through my head while I’m moving. When I haven’t taken time for myself, I feel a hitch in my breathing right where the anxiety starts in my chest. I feel tears prickling around my eyes and tickling my nose. My shoulders, I realize, are up around my ears. In that small moment of silence, I let it go. Tears, breath, shoulders. One giant Whoosh!
Going through this second divorce and all the emotions of those five kids on top of mine has been even louder then the noise of regular living. Even on the off weekends when I don’t have the kids, my thoughts have taken over to fill in. Doubt, guilt, hurt . . . I hear them loud and clear, and they are not quiet to begin with. I needed some time to quiet everything down, bring peace into my life for more then the ten breaths I was allowing myself. Because I needed to create space, I stepped away from posting, backed off my book business, and moved away from any position at church and work that I could.
At work, I have made sure to leave a fifteen minute gap between my elementary groups in the morning and my junior high classes in the afternoon. I sit in my Learning Café and listen to the running pump of my emotional support fish and breathe. I don’t usually get the full fifteen minutes to myself (such is the nature of special education), but I’ve been better at inviting those who are in the room with me to take a minute to breathe with me.
Now, I have some space. There is some silence.
I have a blue folder in my personal file cabinet at home. In it there are notes from people that make me smile, cards, drawing, and comics. When I’m feeling down, I pull it out (blue=sad Get it? I think I’m funny and cleaver, but my students keep reminding me I’m not THAT funny . . . ). One of the comic strips I’ve had since I was in junior high. The son has just gone through a break up and is sitting on his bed. Mom comes in and asks how it’s going. He says, “I’m just looking at the broken pieces and trying to decide what to keep and what to throw away.” Isn’t that powerful?
The dust has settled, the mess is still there, but I’m deciding what to take and what to leave behind. There is no rush that needs to happen. Not for me or for the kids.
I’ve missed writing. There is a part of me that needs the words to flow in order to breathe easier. In the clean-up, I realized I need this outlet. Maybe not the pressure I was putting on myself to make it happen. I’ve picked this piece up, dusted it off and am putting it in the “Keep” pile. I’m not clear yet on what that is going to look like once I have the other pieces decided on. I don’t have to have that decided. Yet.