Our house is loud.
Almost all the time.
It’s not that the kids are obnoxious (well, most of the time), but with five of them, it’s just busy and hectic and… LOUD.
One night, I posted on Facebook, “My house is SO loud.” A friend responded with, “What? I can’t hear you because my kids are being so loud!”
My 2 year old is going through a phase of being completely irrational when he wakes up in the mornings. Since I’m still getting up at night with Janie, the boys know to come down and make their own breakfast if I’m not up yet. I often wake up to the sound of Jonathan screaming at one of his older brothers because he asked for apple juice, and someone fixed it for him, and now…? He doesn’t want apple juice? It wasn’t the right cup? No one knows. He always comes around and drinks the juice and eats his breakfast, but crying is just part of our morning routine.
My boys love to sing. I’m so glad they sing. Truly, I am. Sometimes, though, I’d like to change their channel.
In 1992, Steven Curtis Chapman released a song that was a collaborative effort with Toby Mac called “Got To Be True.” It’s kind of a quasi-rap/contemporary Christian music combination. Aidan has it on his iPod because we loaded Jordan’s old “The Great Adventure” CD on it. It wasn’t my favorite song in 1992, and it hasn’t grown on me in the past 22 years either. But the boys love it. And sing it. Over and over and over and over.
Sometimes they sing it (or another song) over the top of Jonathan’s or Janie’s crying, and that’s when I really start to lose it. We’ve had to enact a new house rule: If someone is crying, please don’t sing. Maybe hum to yourself, but PLEASE don’t sing loud enough to be heard over the crying. It’s unpleasant.
There are so many loud things that I never realized could be loud.
Walking up the stairs.
Jumping off the bed.
Jumping off the couch.
Opening/closing the door.
Dumping out the tub of Legos.
Sorting through the Legos to find a piece.
Fighting over the Legos.
Putting the Legos away.
Brushing teeth. (Because they all have to be in our 3 square foot bathroom at the same time, so there is lots of shoving.)
Marbles landing on the hard floor.
The pencil sharpener grinding and grinding and grinding.
Living with the constant loud can be hard. Staying calm and peaceful with the constant loud is not something that I am always good at.
Tonight Jordan took the boys to church. They always leave early because he is the Awana T&T boys’ director. Janie and I were still getting ready to leave, and she decided that she wanted her bottle RIGHT NOW before heading out to church. I glanced at the clock and felt slightly annoyed because she is not the fastest bottle-drinker, and I still had to wash pumping equipment and bottles before we could leave, and I really wanted to be on time or even early so that I could talk to adults. But as I was sitting there with no one else at home and my six month old daughter in my lap peacefully drinking, I thought,
“This is QUIET. This is a moment of quiet. I should be celebrating this! Not wishing for it to be over!”
So instead of feeling frustrated at the delay, I enjoyed her warm little body next to mine and her blue eyes and her wispy hair. The way she studies everything while she’s drinking. Her cute little fingers and her pudgy feet with the socks hanging halfway off.
In my Bible study lesson for my Titus 2 group (small group women’s Bible study) this week, we read Psalm 119:145-149. I got to verse 147, and it says, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words. My eyes anticipate the night watches, That I may meditate on your word.” I thought, “The psalmist gets it!” The psalmist (unknown, but possibly David, Daniel, or Ezra) must have had a hectic and loud life too! He actually looked forward to the night watches because it was his chance to meditate on God’s Word uninterrupted.
So I’m realizing that the quiet moments are there, even if it does take some creativity to find them. This is a “night watches” season, and that’s okay. It won’t always be, to this degree, although I think we still have a lot of time left in the loud and hectic stage.
I’m trying to take advantage of the moments of quiet. Pray. Read Scripture. Rest for a minute. It takes a lot of discipline to avoid things like Facebook that mostly just add more noise. And it takes discipline to insist on at least an hour of quiet time in the afternoons – but everyone needs it!
Tonight I didn’t think I could take another moment of talking and listening and interacting, but then Jonathan asked me to sing to him at bedtime, and I just couldn’t say no. Lying next to him in the dark hearing his little voice singing, “Jesus Loves Me,” I thought, “Some day they’ll be grown and gone and I’ll have my quiet…”
But maybe I don’t want the quiet to come. 🙂
P.S. If you were hoping for more practical tips on the noise level, here are a few. I will say that I really don’t allow the boys to be obnoxious. Just because we have a somewhat large family doesn’t mean that our house needs to be chaos. We work daily on self-control during school time and keeping our noise level down. We work on not talking while someone else is talking. We own very few noise-making toys (toys that have buttons and sounds, etc.) and we try to get outside and exercise every day. All that helps, but a house with 7 people is just gonna be louder than a smaller family! What tips can you add?
For more on our crazy life, you might want to read The Reality of Life with Five Kids