The Sound of Quiet

We were talking with a friend at dinner the other day, and she was saying how quiet her house was since all three of her kids were away this week. Her oldest daughter is married and has three kids, they were staying with her for a while before moving out of state; her middle son was at a martial arts tournament in South Korea and lives at home while going to college for physical therapy; her youngest daughter lives at home while going to college for zoology but was away at a cabin with friends. She said that she told her husband that they're going to need to move to a smaller house when the kids all move out, because it's too weird for their current house to be so quiet. 

Bryce said something about our house being quiet too, but I was like, no. That's different. Our house has ALWAYS been quiet (minus our increasingly vocal elderly cat). 

We don't have the contrast of that beautiful chaos we once craved so much, and then the absence of that. 

I can imagine that's hard, the contrast of all that activity and then... Shhh. 

But also, it's hard to have only ever imagined that chaos, to want the noise but never have it. To have the ghost of that alternate life and all its cacophony, and to feel oppressed by the silence. 

I felt that way until we moved. This house was always meant for silence, or really loud music, or movies and dinners late in the evening because that's how we live. It's filled with the sound of two people typing, pages turning, food cooking, wine uncorking, puzzle pieces clicking, music playing, cats purring... The sounds of the life we have. 

I don't know if my friend will move and downsize; it gets more complicated when it's your kids' childhood home, I guess. But moving away from those noisy ghosts was a great way for us to mark that transition, the contrast that wasn't so outwardly apparent of Wanting the Chaos to Accepting That Our Life Is (And Sounds) Different. 

If you are still in the Wanting place, know that it is possible to eventually get to that place of Accepting. Not to say there isn't the occasional wistful moment, but overall it's good to remember that once I never thought that I could ever be happy with the quiet life we live and love now.


  1. Oh Jess, this is such a beautiful post. This house has ghosts - but I don't think it would have ever been the house where school age kids would have lived. I hear the ghosts in the summer when I have the windows open, and feel the silence here surrounded by the noise of children playing outside.

    But then your post made me think of the sounds of our house. It's open plan over several floors, and my husband and I communicate by yelling at each other up and down the stairs (just because we can)! It is also the sound of two people typing or at their computers (snap), cooking, wine being poured into glasses, watching shows together, listening to informational radio, working out, doing crosswords together, etc. I love the sounds of your house. I need cats again.

  2. Oh, you are so right. The silence in the house I bought for my children was painful. The silence in the house where I live now is restorative.

    I know people just talk conversationally and they are not always trauma-oriented in their chatter. But I really wish people with children would think about the things they say to people who are childless not-by-choice. I know I wasn't there in the conversation with your friend and the whole thing may have been entirely innocuous, but, from the outside, it seems a bit insensitive that a friend would lament to you that her house was too quiet after raising three children (two of whom still live with her).

    The sounds of my house? Keyboards typing, sewing machine humming, tv talking, and lots and lots of laughter. <3

  3. Truly beautiful post. I love the description of the sounds of your home, the sounds of you fulfilling life. And how you offer hope to those in the Wanting place.

  4. Our 874-square-foot condo often has the TV running, or music playing. But if there's noise, it's because we want to listen to it. We can turn things off & enjoy some quiet if we want it. There's plenty of noisy places around us, if we want that too...!