Every day, I tuck myself into my office. From 10 to noon, I ignore the outside world and enter another. This is my protected writing time. My work in progress time. My focus on the novel time. I keep the house quiet during this time. The door is shut. The heat clicks on. A bird chirps outside. A construction vehicle beeps as it backs up down the street. I settle in for the work. The silence is mine. I shape it and fill it with words on the page.
The afternoons are not silent. There is usually music or a podcast in my ears as I edit or run an errand or work through a plot problem. There is chatter and thought and ideas clattering up against my ear drums.
Then, it is 3:30. The focus shifts.
School dismisses at 3:45. At 3:46, the school’s bus alerts start dinging on my phone. One ding at a time.
The buses arrive on campus – ding by ding.
The buses depart – ding by ding.
My children’s bus is one of the last to arrive back at school (thanks to bus sharing between schools) and so I wait and wait for the bus three ding. My ding. The ding that means I should head for the bus stop.
And while I wait, I finish whatever task I’m working on. I click off the music, pause the podcast, turn away from the book’s voices. The house settles and is suddenly quiet again in a way it isn’t the rest of the day. The heat clicks on again. I hear car doors slam at my neighbors houses as older kids return home. Someone laughs or hollers at another kid across the street. I hear the trash cans being dragged up a driveway.
This silence is no longer the same as the writing silence. This silence is the quiet pull back of the tide before it returns the quiet water in a rush and crash of a wave.
I suddenly long for my boys, crave them, can’t wait to see their bodies and minds return to me to tell me about their day. The attention they grant me is fleeting. Sometimes only as long as it takes for us to walk back from the bus stop or for me to help get them a snack. I remind them to put their bags and lunch boxes away. They pull out their homework. They disappear to play.
But their breath, their laughter, their stomping feet, the rustle of their turning pages, their whirring brains fill my silence and I wrap it around me like a blanket. My mother silence is anything but quiet, and yet it stills my soul and calms my anxieties.
It is 3:34 and the house is too quiet again.
I wait. For the boys to fill the silence.
I crave it. Like a drug.