I have never appreciated silence more than since the birth of Little Birdie (LB). Background noise has never really bothered me, I’m always listening to music and my jobs have always been in noisy places. In fact, when I was reading the news on commercial radio, I got very used to listening to two different things at once, with one earphone on and the other off. In more recent times, I’ve gotten used to the constant rumble of voices in the background while I’m teaching (not from my class of course!?..).
So, I didn’t think twice about noise when we bought our house. Our home is quite close to the city and perches on a long thin block, flanked by houses on either side. You look straight out of our windows into our neighbours’ windows. In fact, we are so close you can reach out the window and touch each other. However, that didn’t seem to matter when we bought, because our house is almost eighty years old and has beautiful waffle glass windows and gorgeous high ceilings. You can’t see the neighbours at all when you are inside … but you can hear them. In recent times, I’m finding you can hear them more and more, because their families are growing. We now have families with three children on either side. There’s a certain level of noise that co-exists with a big family. I know it all too well, as there were three children in my family growing up. Normally, I would find all the noise nostalgic and charming, but that’s all changed since the arrival of LB. Now I’m consumed with concern that she will be woken from her nap by the ruckus.
Meanwhile, it is not just the noise of the neighbourhood children that concerns me. Our house is a unique-fixer-upper. Actually, so is nearly every other house in the street. It’s a beautiful area and as the older residents move on, young families are buying the houses and renovating them. It’s one of the big attractions of the area. The suburb is filled with beautiful old houses brimming with character, good-sized backyards and excellent proximity to services, while being only a few kilometres from the city. It’s a great place to live, but all those renovations make a lot of noise and noise is the enemy of the sleeping baby.
My concern about noise is exacerbated by the fact that our house is noisy. There are breezeways above the bedroom doors which are beautiful, but let in all the noise. We have lovely polished wooden floors, but they echo and the floorboards creak as you move around. To make matters worse, the door handle of LB’s bedroom has broken and the door is slightly warped, so I can’t close it completely. It has led to the ridiculous situation of me hiding downstairs trying to keep quiet while she is sleeping. In the meantime, the housework is piling up around me. I’ve tried playing the radio so that is blocks out the background noise for LB, but that doesn’t seem to be working. I’ve now resorted to replacing the door handles and temporarily covering the breezeways in an attempt to give LB a chance to sleep and me a chance to move around while she’s doing so. However, it’s breaking my heart to cover the breezeways, as the ornate features are one of the principal reasons we bought the house.
Which brings me to the reason I’m writing this entry. I hadn’t realized how much I had come to crave silence until yesterday. Yesterday was a lovely day. For once, LB was sleeping well, she was in a good mood when she was awake and she was eating well. I used my time during her nap to sort the washing and I was really enjoying the morning. Then it happened. I heard a loud, thundering, enthusiastic knock to the front door. I was downstairs but I could practically feel the reverberations. My heart sunk, my stomach did a flip-flop. I was terrified that it was the end of my perfect morning and bubby was about to wake. I scampered up the stairs, trying to make as little sound as possible and practically floating to the door, ready the shush whomever was on the other side. I peeked through the stained glass and … no one was there. Puzzled, I concluded that it must have been the kids next door playing and the noise had travelled through. However, the mystery was solved later that afternoon when a very loud and overly enthusiastic girl knocked on our door asking for a charitable donation. It turns out she had knocked on the neighbour’s door earlier in the day and it had been so loud, it sounded like she had knocked on my door. She mentioned how the neighbour had told her to be quiet because there were babies sleeping. However, the information didn’t seem to sink in, because she was very loud while she was at my door. Luckily, LB was awake. I did give her a donation in the end but she’ll never know the panic she had caused me!
The moral to this story is that all other considerations go by the wayside when you have a baby. Their needs just have to come first. Since the birth of LB, I have learned to love the quiet. Overall, this is probably a good thing, as it’s important to take some time out from the rat race that is modern living. So many good things happen in the silence, like meditation, relaxation, contemplation and restful sleep. In LB’s world, silence is golden and now it is is golden in my world too.