Silence is golden so the saying goes but I’m becoming convinced that that’s not actually true. Or at least not true for me. I know I love, ok crave, moments of peace and quiet in our daily life, but I’m not sure I want absolute silence, more just the gentle hum of a contented family.
In the last week our whole family has had a stinking coldy virus. Elma copped the worst of it on top of her ear infections and tonsilitis (from which she is now thankfully completely recovered) but we’ve all gone down with lesser versions and for all of the last week I’ve had a really nasty tickly cough. The sort where any sort of speaking brings on a ten minute coughing fit.
It’s unpleasant and rather annoying but nothing more than that and we’ll be over it before we know it but for a whole week I could barely talk. All instructions were given in an urgent whispered monotone which I think made me sound perpetually grumpy and that was as good as we got. There was no singing, no telling of “from my head’ stories, no snuggling down in the twilight to read book after book while we wait for H to come home.
It’s very corny to say you don’t miss it til it’s gone but it’s so true. I just hadn’t realised how much of a cornerstone to our days the singing and storytelling had become.
We sing The Grand Old Duke of York to climb the hill up to the playpark, and on the really windy days we shout half remembered verses of Sea Fever into the gusts as they swirl through.
There’s the singing to start the day, watching Kitty try to teach us the latest song she’s been learning at nursery or trying to pass down to both girls the songs I loved in my childhood, the action songs to get rid of excess wriggles in two little girls sometimes prone to cabin fever on long drizzly winter days, the stories you read where one or two scamper off on their own ideas half way through and you set the book aside for another time, and the stories that we read before bedtime, one head already drifting off to sleep on a pink spotty pillow which the other cuddles in under my arm, curled into my side with her ever faithful blankie tightly clasped in her other hand.
It sounds really silly to say that I think singing might be part of my parenting technique but it turns out it’s true; when I can feel that I’m getting wound up by making the same request time and again with absolutely no impact I sing it to a silly tune and somehow it both lets out the annoyance and nine times out of ten it catches the girls’ attention and the books finally get put back on the bookcase or everyone at last locates their shoes and we can get ready to go out.
And I don’t know whether it’s because we’ve all been tired and feeling grotty or whether having a cold and a sore throat and a hacking cough just made me perpetually slightly irritated but everything just felt like such hard work.
Even when I could look back on a day and know that we went to the park and we played with the glitter glue and we danced around the kitchen to Christmas music and got the cutters out and made biscuits and everyone napped and went to bed as and when they should and that on paper it was a great day it felt like the effort required to keep my temper, to keep everyone happy and ticking along had made it a bit of a failure. It’s that feeling that everything you have achieved has been done unwillingly and as a result of gargantuan effort on your part that rather sucks the joy out of it.
In my heart of hearts I know it wasn’t, just as I also know that it’s just a tad unrealistic to expect every day to be ushered in by sunshine and unicorns, and there’s every possibility that it was just one of those days regardless of whether I could speak or not, but I also know that the first day that I could get through the whole of the bedtime story without having to go and get a drink and take a break while I coughed up my toes just felt wonderful. It was so perfectly normal and routine, and I think we all breathed a huge sigh of relief.
So despite all my threats to have the bathroom soundproofed it seems that silence is not good for Mummies and as if it’s coming from the children it usually means they’re up to something that requires immediate investigation, I think I’ll choose noise every time.
PS I know the pictures are a bit of a tangent but have you ever tried to photograph singing. While doing it? So instead I bring you cookies, which it seems are almost as good for restoring family equilibrium, but not quite!