It’s partially due to a recent lack of focused-writing, my sanity’s daily bread, that has me off kilter, but I swear new challenges continue to emerge from my one-sided deafness. You see, it’s not just about hearing less, or rather, needing to strain more to understand sound. Rather, it’s all about the missing dimension and inability to localize the direction from which sound waves travel. It's about sound jumbled together in one loud incoherent mess that renders me frazzled. It seems to electrocute my nervous system with shocks of anxiety. And this scenario repeats itself daily in my home-full-of-opinionated-and-outspoken-kids.
Yeah, I’ve been dealing with five alpha dogs, i.e. kids, for years and am no stranger to the constant badgering, debating and complaint-filing. Sometimes I can referee and moderate with grace and defuse them with humor. However, something has changed and lately, I find myself exhausted and easily overwhelmed. By noise.
I blame it on my small, poorly-constructed house that does nothing to deflect, absorb or mitigate sound's vibration. And it doesn’t help that as a family, we spend most of our time together in a “great room” which is far from “great” as it functions more like a giant racquetball court, where kids’ relentless voices reverberate and echo off of every square inch of space. I try to insulate my lone, delicate hearing-ear with a foamy plug as I go about my business and ostensibly submit to the noise pollution.
But it puts me in a bad mood. I feel like a recluse, and count down to silence. I want to lock myself away in my room or retreat to some other quiet space---away from my kids.
But they deserve to be kids---to laugh, to play, to sing and shout out with glee. Yet the pestering sound of television commercials makes my blood boil. The ringing phone is unbearable. Any conversation attempted while my kids are within a 100-yard radius is outright stupid. And against my better judgment, because Mommy cannot deal, I allow TVs in the kids’ rooms..
Tonight, just after the youngest four finally drifted off to sleep, after having spent their first joyous (and loud) night of Hanukkah, communing with their new swag, I let out a sigh of relief. Maybe I’ve grown autistic? I considered. Maybe I’m antisocial and only want to read, write and hear myself breathe. Maybe I now suck at being a mom.
At that moment, my ten-year-old daughter who has always possessed wisdom beyond her years, sat down beside me. I confessed. I feel like a bad mother for not being more organized, for not running the house like a schoolteacher, (for not keeping everything quiet), I shamefully thought to myself. I feel overwhelmed by the noise and cannot get a handle on how to manage it. Sometimes I feel like I want to run away.
Together, my daughter and I came up with a make-life-easier-for-mommy strategy. We discussed realistic, attainable goals for the upcoming New Year and, for a moment, chatted like friends. I don’t do that often. I'm usually coaching, or at least, always “parenting.” But it felt good to vent a little. And she didn’t seem to take offense to my honesty. Instead, rays of compassion beamed from her eyes as she hugged me with all her might.
From time to time, I guess I must reveal my vulnerability to her. Not that she should feel insecure under my supervision or in my ability to nurture her, but to enable her to experience real empathy. This feeling, I believe, must begin at home.
Tomorrow is a new day for a fresh start. Inspired and supported by my confidant and the impending New Year, undoubtedly, we’ll turn today’s frustrations into tomorrow’s solutions and resolutions.
Perhaps doubling-up on earplugs will be one of them.
Happy Holidays to all and wishing you a happy, healthy New Year full of joy, peace, prosperity and love!