The Too Quiet House
By Gloria Raskin
We came home last night from Washington, D.C. where we visited with our daughter and her family. She and her husband have two little boys, ages five and almost three. The activity level in their house is always high, and this morning in our own home, when we started our day, the silence was deafening. We had left their home with lights, non-stop action, and non-stop noise for our home, which resembled a reading room in a British library. A period of adjustment is necessary for these transition times. I noticed that when they were all here for Thanksgiving week.
After the house was restored to its original shape and form, the deafening silence reigned again. They left behind a funny looking cutout turkey from Thanksgiving that I cannot throw away. It sits with its Pilgrim hat and colorful feathers on a table in the family room. Somehow displaying this reminds me of the boys and I miss them a little less. I can remember assembling the turkeys before the holidays with my oldest grandson. He made fun of my inability to put the turkey wings on right, and I put the feet backward and he laughed at my mistakes. Five-year-old Jamie looked at me in a superior manner even though he is barely able to cut with scissors.
Their days are a jumble of activity, so unlike mine at this point in our lives when we are both retired and sometimes accomplish little in the gift of a day. On Saturday, we visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum including a short ride in a space simulator and lunch at McDonald’s located in the museum. Dinner was a celebration of my husband’s birthday at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant.
On Sunday we went to Gymboree, and then while the little one napped, we visited a planetarium in a nearby park and finished off the day with a neighborhood birthday party and a dinner in a restaurant. Then comes the sleep routine, requiring both parents (and often grandparents) for bath time, tooth-brushing time, and bedtime story time, where the requests for just one more book are certain. Wearily, we go to our bedroom and the soothing elixir of showers and sleep.
“It is only when I return from a visit to my youngest grandchildren, or they leave my home, that the silence is palpable, perhaps because the contrast is huge.”
Reflecting back on the days when I was in charge as a young mother and thought nothing about cramming more into my day than was possible, I remember my mother working hard to keep up with me, just as I did this weekend. I look at my daughter and her husband with such pride and know they are doing the same. Their children are first on the list of activities and priorities, in spite of them both holding full-time jobs.
My youngest daughter is in her mid-forties so it has been a long time since my child-rearing days. My home has been quiet for a long time. It is only when I return from a visit to my youngest grandchildren, or they leave my home, that the silence is palpable, perhaps because the contrast is huge
It is at these times that I purposely make noise, put on the radio, television, or a favorite CD, bang a few pots together, and talk to the photos of my grandchildren. I need the noise to fill up the emptiness in my home and in my heart. The silence offers a time to revisit the fond memories of childhood with my children and grandchildren and wish somehow that our lives could slow down and somehow catch up to theirs
About the Author – Gloria Raskin
Gloria (aka Gigi) Raskin is a freelance writer who has written for GRAND Magazine. In addition, her work has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers in Long Island, Longboat Key, Florida, East Hampton, and Westchester, where she now lives.