Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Sweet Sounds of Silence! Why we all need to turn down the volume in our lives.

Silence…the complete absence of sound or noise. Stillness in all its glory! Often, it is silence that allows our mind to open to new possibilities and discoveries. Silence is an important part of life and is a critically important component of home school. Because we spend so much time together, silence can be much welcomed, needed and easily tolerated. There is no such thing as uncomfortable silence in our home and I often wish I had my own personal “cone of silence” like Maxwell Smart on the old Get Smart series.

My family is winding down from a prolonged period of noise of the most intolerable kind. You see, recently, gigantic yellow earth-moving equipment stormed our property (per direction of the hubby). For the last 10 days, these big yellow beasts have been droning along mercilessly from sunrise to sunset as we re-grade our yard. My husband seems to be immune to this noise. He grew up in a loud family. That’s for another blog.

The outcome of this noise might (I emphasize might) be worth it, for in the end, we’ll have slightly more usable yard space. In the meantime, the noise is taking a toll on us. Couple the relentless noise with the occasional outburst of sibling rivalry, the continual background music meant to drown out the noise, piano practice, the drone of the television, and PMS and it’s a recipe for mom to have a mini meltdown or two.

But it has made me think about my own childhood and the multitude of embarrassing “silence inducing techniques” conceived of by my very own, forward thinking mother. I now realize that what she was really doing was coveting and promoting opportunities for silence. She was protecting us from the noise of the outside world. Her “silence based rules” were totally unappreciated by us kids. Now that I am an adult, I realize the simple brilliance behind them, and I think it’s too bad there aren’t more silence focused moms like her.

Let me tell you about Linda…

Linda was ahead of her time in many ways. She reduced, reused and recycled. She conserved and composted before it was cool to be “green”. She fed us whole wheat flour, made us grow and eat our own veggies, and forced us to try a little of everything on our plates even though we protested dramatically. Chores were mandatory and she often “white glove tested” us.

We ate three meals as a family per day, and we all had to sit quietly at the table and hold polite conversation through the entire meal. Meal times were not to be interrupted by the “noise” of outsiders. To insure silence, she made signs that said “come back later, we are eating”. We had the embarrassing task of hanging these on the door to ward off unwanted visitors (i.e. neighborhood kids) while we were eating. The same practice applied during our afternoon nap appropriately named our “quiet rest”. Each day at 4:30, we begrudgingly hung out a sign that said “come back later we are resting”. Our “quiet rest” was a period of 30-45 minutes in which my siblings and I were banished to our rooms to engage in silent activities. Oh, how she must have relished that time. Secretly, I did too!

I think my mom, in her own way, was insisting that we “turn down the noise” in all areas of our lives so we could spend some quiet time and family time completely free of distractions to think, ponder, explore, and assimilate the vast potential of our minds, or to simply enjoy each other’s company without constant interruptions. She remained unwavering in her commitment to this practice throughout my childhood. I am trying to assimilate this into our home school routine with moderate success. The practice is phenomenal. My discipline is lacking. The bottom line is that we need silence to explore our potential and grow as human beings.

So go ahead, grab the remote and turn down the volume on your life!


  1. What a beautiful family!What a soulful blog!:)

  2. Hello "confessions"

    Thanks for your compliment. How did you find out about my blog?