Sounds of Silence

Today I slept unusually late. JP stayed at my parent’s house while Mommy and Daddy enjoyed a much-needed night out so I didn’t have him or my alarm clock to rouse me from my sleep. Even so, I slept passed 9 o’clock and was somewhat startled when I woke and saw the numbers 9:35 blinking on my nightstand. My first thought was how quiet the house seemed without the usual bustle of JP’s chatter or the drone of the television. But I soon realized the silence went deeper than that. The windows were open and there was a noticeable absence of outside noises as well. No children strolling by with their parents, no cars leaving driveways on their way to a days worth of errands, no dogs barking on their mid-morning walks.

Oh, it’s August, it suddenly occurred to me, and memories from this very week four years ago came flooding back.

It was our first week in our new home, and my first full-time experience in the suburbs in almost a decade. I had a 13-month old son and was busy unpacking, organizing and attempting to decorate what seemed like a palatial space in comparison to the 900-foot apartment we had just vacated, when I noticed the silence. It was less a mental observation than a sensory one, one I felt the way one feels heat or extreme cold. After living in a large city for so long, I reasoned, I must be missing the soundtrack of noise I had grown accustomed to.

What I didn’t realize was that everyone in my neighborhood was away. And what I couldn’t have known as a new mother was why.

There are only a few short weeks of summer left and what the other parents in the neighborhood knew was that school was threatening to start soon. This thought hit me this afternoon while taking a walk with JP and my same-aged niece Kathleen. In a neighborhood known for its abundance of children there wasn’t one to be seen. No group of boys out for a ride on their bikes, no gaggle of children playing outside while a cluster of mothers chatted and looked on, no post-nap infants out for a walk with their normally house-bound Moms.

It occurred to me that maybe while we all are looking forward to the return of regiment and routine this fall, there is a part of us that understands how precious time with our young children is and the veteran parents recognize this with a vacation.

As a Mom about to navigate the new world of Kindergarten for the first time, I understand the need to savor these last days of summer. Already the night air has begun to hint that fall isn’t far off and I can’t help but find myself planning for the season’s hallmarks- the first day of school, apple picking, Halloween.

But I am making a conscious effort to slow down in these finals weeks before full-day school begins. To pack up the car and head to the beach or the pool, laundry be damned. To appreciate how lucky I am to be JP’s mother and to have been there to wipe every tear, mend every mound, manage every crisis these past five years. Because soon he will spend more waking hours in a classroom than he will at home. For much of the day my house will be silent.

And like this morning, I imagine it will be deafening.


Ellen Askin Bailey is a freelance writer and mother of one awesome little 5-year old boy. She is a contributor to the blog 



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