Living alone took some getting used to. After all, I raised three kids by myself for something like 18 years. Peace and quiet during those years was hard to come by.
Moving more than 500 miles from the constant noise and strife of three kids really meant getting in touch with the joys of peace and the serenity of silence.
Living next to the interstate wasn’t exactly peaceful, but it was a different kind of noise than three kids and all their friends traipsing through the house can make.
Then I moved out to the country. Only someone who has lived less than 100 feet from an interstate can understand the true peace of no longer hearing grumbling, groaning screeching of the Jake brakes as the 18-wheeleers shut down to be able to make a near-missed exit ramp.
I explained all this to my son before he asked if he could move up here with me. I told him I live a very quiet, simple life. He was well aware that television holds no interest for me. He knew I have a television, and that it is not connected to cable, dish or even an antenna.
Before Joshua made the move, he knew I get up early (usually between 5:30 and 6 a.m.) and that I do my morning routine of coffee and Bible study on the porch before I go feed the horses. I go to work. I go to church. I ride when I can. I stack hay. I keep the house at least presentable and – I occasionally – when absolutely forced to I go to the grocery store.
That is my life.
He knew all of this and he still chose to come live in my quiet world.
The problem is he has no understanding of the serenity of solitude. He does not comprehend the thrill of a country sunrise or the peace garnered from the songs of night critters.
He has watched my entire stash of old movies until he knows them line-by-line. A few nights after he got to my house, he came out on the porch and flopped down on the extra chair.
“What now?” he asked.
I said, “What do you mean?”
His reply told me the quiet was getting to him. “What do we do now? I’ve watched your movies.”
He continued, “What do you do to keep from going crazy?”
I told him we could go for a ride the next afternoon or maybe go to the lake on the weekend.
He looked at me, and his expression said more than his words, “Really Mom? For real!”
I don’t think it was the excitement he was looking for.
The next week, with his first paycheck he bought himself a new acoustic guitar to replace the one he lost a while back.
For the next few days he practiced on a number of songs. I’ve got to give him credit, he plays fairly well. But, after hearing one song 100 times in one day, coming from both the stereo and his guitar, I’m afraid I lose some of my objectivity.
I need some peace and quiet, so I go out on the porch to listen to the night noises. He opens the window so I can hear his noises!
After several days of this I can’t take it anymore. I tell him he has to allow me at least an hour every morning and every evening of true peace. I don’t want to hear the stereo, the strum of the guitar, the old movies on TV or the constant buzzing of his cell phone.
I want the peace and quiet I have come to love.
The first evening of the new rules, I am sitting in the warm darkness of the porch. Crickets are singing, a hoot owl is hooting and the coyotes are yipping. Lovely.
Then he turns on the stereo, a prelude to his guitar session.
“No, no, no,” I tell him. “This is my hour of peace and quiet.”
He sat there for maybe two minutes before he looked at me and said, “Really, Mom? For real!”
I nodded my head, yes. He just hung his head. No understanding.
“Really Mom?” he said, walking into the house.