Be quiet. Shut up! Shhhh. Stop talking! Hands over ears, I can’t hear you. La, la, la.
A combination of any of the quieting tactics listed above sling around my house on any given day. We would not consider ourselves a quiet bunch. Although there are consequences for the harsh ways we respond to one another, the truth is, in the moment, it is ultimately impossible to control the words coming out my children’s mouths.
Belonging to a spirited bunch of people often leaves me longing for a quiet that can permeate the places and spaces that my family calls home. My children are often dysregulated and the ball that rolls when our home is messy and my patience is thin can quickly turn into a destructive force for all of us.
On a recent trip to visit family, I packed a couple of books as I anticipated quiet spaces and room to read. One of the ones I chose was The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith. The book had been given to me as a gift and I had started reading it last summer but never finished it as is often the case for me. Myquillyn is known throughout the blogging world as “The Nester” and she has been encouraging women to embrace the homes they are in, reminding readers that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. In the book, she describes a process she does called quieting a room. By quieting a room, she recommends removing everything that isn’t a rug, piece of furniture, lamp, or somehow attached to the wall. She goes on to explain all the benefits of quieting a space and the beauty that unfolds as you creatively evaluate what you have and what you need as you re-decorate a space.
Quieting a space. I do that. I had no idea that what I was doing could be referenced in such a kind way. I am more apt to say that I am “reducing chaos” and “getting rid of junk” but quieting the space is always the feeling that I am hoping to achieve.
Moving from a town with over one million people to one with 250,000 had a way of quieting my life. We moved in the fall that year into a beautiful remodeled two bedroom, one bath farmhouse. Although we were in the middle of town, the fields and trees surrounding our home made it feel as if we were living in the country and my body began to feel that I had space to breathe. That year was the same year that my eldest son’s behavior and challenges began to escalate and eventually adventures outside the home became limited as the meltdowns’ frequency and intensity grew. Suddenly, a new level of quieting our lives became necessary. The louder the chaos became in the home, the quieter our lives were with the outside world. This quieting did not afford the room to breathe deeply and I have wrestled as I have embraced the spaces in which our family is called to live.
I wrestle with the fact that nearly every encounter with friends will end poorly. I struggle with the idea that my seven year old has no desire to participate in a team sport and probably never will. I feel sadness when I think about the tension and anxiety that floods every encounter for him with friends. The invitation for school functions stresses me out as I weigh the pros and cons from a public encounter.
I’ve never known a quiet like this before. My childhood was filled with friendships and activities. Sports and musicals. Dining out, sleepovers, and weekend adventures were a welcome alternative to normal daily life.Coming into parenting, we carry with us the memories from our childhood.
We either choose to carry forward traditions, let them go, or alter them based on the family that we are creating for ourselves.
Some of us choose things for our families based on the fact that we don’t know anything different. Sometimes we fear making a different choice from our parents out of concern that it might appear that we didn’t appreciate the choice they made when it came to parenting us. Some of our choices are made simply because we don’t know ourselves so we follow the path of masses.
I’m not sure what kind of parent I would be today if I had chosen to not pay attention to the signals that invited us to live a quieter life. In this process of quieting our lives, I am learning more about who I am and what I believe. I am finding space to feel what it is that I love and what I can let go. Some days there is grieving, other days there is celebration. Hopefully there is always a beauty unfolding as I re-evaluate what I have and what I need both in my life and my home.
Bethany Cabell is a Texas transplant, residing in Michigan with her husband and their two young boys. A lover of beauty, she lives life chasing after wide-open spaces: sharing her heart with others, in relationship with Jesus, and through music and photography. She tells her story here.