I’ve been very aware that I am accumulating notebooks with notes, thoughts and half-ended ideas, hastily scratched down with pen or pencil in moments of quiet curled in my corner of the couch. Or moments lost to oblivion as I try to bring myself back on-line after I’ve checked out to a quieter place. And part of that is to do with volume. The volume of life.
Sometimes it seems like everyday life is just so loud. The background buzz of a radio or television, kids on thundering paws on hollow floorboards, the cat demanding attention, a carefully constructed tower of blocks falling victim to gravity, the kettle coming to the boil, a vehicle pulling up, galahs taking flight. Not loud impactful sounds individually but together, a cacophony. Sounds that belong in and around the house. Noises that belong in the day to day. Then, you overlay something as innocuous as a single toy. Any thoughts I may have had of maintaining calm fly out the window.
Of particular note is a singular antique hard wheeled monstrosity of a truck that has a particular earsplitting frequency when raced across a hard surface. A sound that physically splits straight through my head, sets my jaw tight and, draws my brow. Get it outside – better still, let it find its way to the ‘Bye-bye’ box for humane disposal. Toys that have batteries or that play at an unreasonable volume are banned. Outright.
You want the boys to have a noisy toy? Don’t expect a Christmas card next year.
I apply the ‘reasonable person’ test. My definition of reasonable is that I do not need to raise my voice to speak to another person or, I feel compelled to leave the room. Is the toy of play value or, noise value alone? I’m not alone on this, researchers have identified that noisy toys have a negative impact on parent and child opportunities for conversation and play.
So I got to researching this personality quirk of mine. I don’t like noise for noise sake. The dichotomy of being a mum who doesn’t like noise and having boys is that they don’t have volume control. Yet, it becomes a learning opportunity. I’m not suggesting that the boys not make any noise but how can we each make sure that we are happy in our home? For us, it is by making quiet time a practice. Not only for me to have six minutes of zen on the verandah but having book time, having creating time at the big table, giggling over a JiffyJam or, simply sharing a cup of tea. Important steps to reduce unnecessary noise in the house and contributing to me not losing my Sh*t too often.
I’m happy to potter about at home with my boys but, I also like company. I don’t have a particularly wide social network but, a handful of really good friends. The kind of girls you can call at 7am for coffee, who don’t care when your kids run feral and forgive you for answering a text message in your head but not actually sending it for another day or so.
I do have to check myself sometimes because if we are the sum of the five people we spend the most time within a week sometimes, I’m the average of a 5 1/2 year old, a 2 1/2 year old, their dad, the lady who makes my take away coffee and my online running coach. On the surface, maybe I need to get out more? Or, is that just how it’s meant to be?
It turns out, there is a name for this fence sitting personality. Apparently (according to a number of free online personality surveys) I end up being an ambivert. A foot in each corner so to speak. Not quite an introvert and not quite an extrovert. Well, it suits me just fine. It also makes sense. Getting older and more secure in my identity has allowed me to be comfortable with that balance of family solitude and noisy bouts of intense human interaction.
Credit photo and quilt J Langfield
I have a friend who patchworks (or is it, does patchwork?). She can be lost for 20minutes or, 2 hours. The design, the piecing together, the single focus on bringing her creation to life. I am envious of her ability to just hone in and either, not be disturbed by “noise” or, return to her focus so easily. After the pieces of time are stitched together a beautiful artwork is produced.
Noise and busy, are part of life. I get that. But I also crave carving out those times of peace in what seems to be relentless noise. DSX walks, I mean, bounces down the hall as soon as he’s up. He’s naturally on the go, investigating, doing, being busy discovering the world and making noise as he goes. I can’t rightly tell him, “No being happy. No bouncing. No running. and No ‘doing’ because that very bouncing, happy, ‘doing’ is driving me up the wall!” I need to get a handle on my own reduced noise needs. How I deal with the happy noise is just as important as how I deal with the unhappy noises that happen in our house.
So I go outside. The noise is always less under the sky. Take a few good breaths, chat with the cat and find my earth-mother calm because I’ve timed it. I have on average, 7 minutes of uninterrupted time before DSX or DSS appear at my elbow wanting, needing or, otherwise curious of mine endeavours. No hiding really. Scratching out quiet time to do any more than that feels like overindulgence on time that could be better spent elsewhere. Another conversation for another day.
While I can’t turn off the external noises I can be responsible for the internal noise. Moments of brain-dumping and idea clearing before the daily noises crowd out the thinking, scheming or, idea creating that was going on. Recognising that I need to get out and walk or, take a few minutes to recharge, to jot down some ideas or, God forbid, close the door on the bathroom in order to gather myself in a quiet space.
I can be choiceful in how I spend my quiet time in order to be better in the noisy times.