Life Parenting SPM/MM

What Happens When All the Noise Goes Away

By Nicole Hardy of She Emerges 

The beginning of summer went something like this for me:

It’s summer, and I couldn’t be happier! I may even be happier than my children. Like attempting to do a cartwheel even though I’m wearing a leg cast because I can’t control myself happy. There are no more science projects to try and help with, no more mystery math problems, no endless trails of papers that should have been signed and stuffed in backpacks, no coupons to sell or walk-a-thon fundraisers, no colored t-shirts required for spirit week, and no more crazy sock day (although I like that one). No more nothing.

And nothing sounds nice for now.

Because nothing means we can wake up with a little less responsibility and a little more fun. Nothing means longer daylight and extended bedtimes. It means saying goodbye to school uniforms and hello to messy hair, mismatched clothes and the relief of not “herding wandering cattle” to the door before 8 am. It means sprinkler dashes through the yard and skipping the evening bath. It means chasing the ice cream truck (yes, one actually comes to our neighborhood) and seeing larger than life smiles from my girls as they get a (usually forbidden) taste of a snow cone before dinner.

Nothing started out as heavenly as expected.

Time slowed down, allowing me to watch my growing babies sleep past early morning hours and rest comfortably without alarm clocks rattling their tired bodies. Smiles greeted me with excitement for daily summer camp. Evenings consisted of a house full of neighborhood friends munching on popcorn and playing endless rounds of UNO. Summer was everything it should have been.

Then one day something happened.

The freedom of summer morphed into an uncontrollable demand for constant entertainment, lack of patience and the inevitable wrath of sisterhood. Vacant hours started filling up with hostile matches of tug of war, yanking hair, snatching markers, movie battles and the need for never-ending fun. Somehow weekly summer camp wasn’t enough. Somehow toys from Santa completely sucked, tablets and Kindles became useless, colorful Rainbow Looms were dull, and every minute needed to be better than the last.

I became fed up with summer.

I was fed up with my children’s inability to be creative in moments of boredom. I was fed up with bad attitudes during a 3-month break they would one day realize they took for granted. I was sick of hearing mumbling underneath the breaths of frustrated children who couldn’t stand the nothingness that was once the epitome of euphoria.

And guess what? I wanted my children to go back to school. I had to work, so why shouldn’t they? I wanted them inundated with homework, book reports, and spelling tests – and I was willing to take on the tons of extra paperwork and even pre-algebra equations to go along with it. I wanted them to be too tired to complain about being bored even though I believe boredom is something they need to deal with. I wanted the talking, whining, arguing, and complaining to stop so I could mentally wrap my head around a normal life with the schedule I suddenly missed. I just wanted some peace and freaking quiet.

And I finally got it—at the grocery store sans my children.

As I wandered around the produce aisle, immersing myself in the gift of silence, I ran into my next door neighbor. I congratulated him on his daughter’s recent high school graduation. “You must be so proud,” I said. His daughter was the high school valedictorian and had been accepted to numerous colleges as a Biochemical Engineer major. He looked to the floor, and his smile faded while his voice began to crack and he struggled to fight off tears. “She’s amazing,” he said. “But she will be gone in two months.” I felt a pit in my stomach, witnessing his emotional turmoil at dreading a final goodbye to his little girl.

She was grown up and starting a life on her own. It was the life he helped prepare her for, but one which came faster than he was willing to embrace. Her summers would soon encompass extra classes, a job, or trips with her new friends from a campus situated hundreds of miles away.

And all I could think of was I wanted a break from the very noise that would be forever gone. The singing, dancing, laughing, yelling and crying. The sibling rivalry along with the hugs and kisses. The growth charts and new marks to celebrate another inch taller. The family vacations, outdoor activities, and craziness that makes a family’s legacy and a lifetime of memories.

I knew it was normal to want a break (coupled with several glasses of wine) and still firmly believe my daughters need to grasp that life is not a 24-hour party (unless they move to Vegas). But unexpectedly, I wanted to run home and indulge in the sometimes quiet/sometimes chaotic days of summer – before I didn’t have summers with my children anymore.

The next morning my husband and I were awakened by loud shouting from my daughters. We heard the sounds of hands slapping and quickly clapping. We listened to voices chanting silly rhymes that grew louder and louder until bursting into an explosion of laughter.  Confused, my husband said, “What in the world is going on?” I smiled and said, “Let them go…they are having fun, and I am enjoying listening to all the noise.”

This post was originally published on She Emerges.

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About the Author

Nicole Hardy is a 40ish-year-old mom of two, obsessed with coffee, her children and her hair. After 14 years in Corporate America, she’s ditched her cubicle for her calling, and launched her blog: She Emerges. She’s finding herself, feeding her soul, and baby she’s emerging! Follow Nicole on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram