Life is an ever-changing app that requires constant adjustments and adaption from its users (not unlike the Facebook interface. LOL) I am re-learning this concept in a very real way these last two weeks. I am a mom of five children, three I gave birth to and two I was blessed to become step-mom to when I married my husband. Needless to say, the house can be grand central station when they’re all around.
Earlier this year, my oldest had moved into my home to save money for a place of his own. In May my two youngest came back from college for the summer. In June my husband’s twelve-year-old came to stay for the summer, and suddenly we had a full house! Four of the five kids were living with us again, with my step-daughter paying occasional visits when she was in town.
My two younger kids are both majoring in music in college, so that means when they are home, someone is always practicing an instrument or singing or listening to music they have to learn for some concert, musical, or worship team they are currently involved with. Upstairs the trumpet is playing. On the main floor, a child is playing the guitar and singing. In the basement the twelve-year-old is playing video games online and talking to his friends very, VERY loudly. (I don’t think he can hear himself with his headphones on, thus the need to yell loud enough to be heard throughout every inch of the 3,500 square foot house.)
My office is on the main floor of the house right in the middle of all this commotion, making it rather hard to concentrate. Don’t get me wrong, I love music, and I think a house full of kids voices and doors slamming has a certain charming, homey appeal. However, I’m a writer, and there is no door thick enough to block out the noise so I can hear my own thoughts once in a while.
I didn’t want to discourage the kids from their musical pursuits. I love that the two musicians/singers are so dedicated to learning their craft and improving their skills. I want my step-son to have fun and play with his friends online. That’s relaxing summer fun kids don’t get much of during the school year. I also wanted to be able to concentrate. I have an intense need to write and work. I love what I do. When I am prevented from doing it, I get grouchy. I readily admit this. I am not ashamed. I need to work!
I coped by doing housework, yard work, and meal prep during the noisiest hours of the day. I would check with the kids about their schedules and find the slots of time when most or all of them would be occupied elsewhere. I would bargain with them that if I could have an hour or two of quiet to work, they could make noise to their heart’s content during the other hours of the day. Somehow we each managed to do our thing and not drive anyone in the house over the edge. My productivity suffered over the summer, but I gained a lot of quality time with the kids, and I enjoyed the lovely music that flavored my world during those months.
A month or so into summer, my oldest found a place and moved out.
At the beginning of August, our twelve-year-old went back to his mom’s house to prepare for the start of the school year.
My husband left for an extended business trip.
Then the college kids began packing and moved back to school, and suddenly …
… the house was completely silent.
No music, no TVs blaring, no voices, no doors slamming, showers running, or dishes banging while someone raids the kitchen.
In radical contrast to the constant clamor of summer, I now have so much peace and quiet and so much time to myself that it’s almost hard to fill it all. Almost. 🙂 I’m adapting rapidly.
As much as my somewhat OCD, order-loving personality would like to live life in a perfectly straight line, all those curves in the road are what makes life interesting and worth living. While the kids sometimes divert me from my intended course, they also enrich my life with amazing experiences and expose me to all that super cool teen and young adult culture that I would miss out on otherwise. They teach me about love, compassion, patience. Watching them grow into mature young adults has been such a treat—totally worth the deafening noise in my house sometimes.
I’ve accepted that life is lived in seasons, and every season comes with a unique set of challenges. The challenges don’t have to stop you. You can adapt. Find workarounds. Shift gears, or change speed to cope with the new circumstances. The goal is to keep moving forward, and to enjoy every moment in the process. The noisy times. The quiet times. The busy years. And the golden years. They’re all precious.
Hug someone you love today!