I hear little slurps from my two year old as she munches a dark plum, seated at our empty kitchen table. She and I have just returned from dropping her two siblings off for their first day in pre-K and second grade. It is now just the two of us at home.
And all is so quiet.
The din of constant chatter mixed with bickering and laughter filled this home throughout the long summer days. There seemed to always be a child bounding down the stairs with resounding thudding steps (“Stop jumping!” I’d command) or calling after someone (“Stop yelling!”). Little lilting voices with eruptions of giggles or yes, more sibling bickering was our background “white noise,” so constant it settled our home.
The air now is hollow and still. I hear the hum of the freezer drawer and the jingle of our dog’s collar as he saunters past.
“Mommy? Mommy!” Gracie calls. I turn from the morning paper and she raises two little hands with clear juice marking trails from her dimpled knuckles down to her covered elbows.
“Me! Me!” she demands.
“Alright Gracie, just a second.” I reach for the paper towel roll. The metal holder clinks against the granite counter with a dull echo.
Grace stretches her arms dutifully toward me and I wipe whatever drip trails I can find. She happily hums a little song.
I look up and meet her blue eyes. “You are quite the singer Gracie girl.”
“Uh-hmm!” she nods back with a smile before gesturing towards the coloring table. Soon the sounds of waxy crayons rubbing against dry paper cut through the quiet air.
Gracie begins humming again and I try mimicking her. And we both laugh.
* * *
This week Grace begins pre-K and a more structured, longer day away at school.
Over the years I’ve often imagined this time in my life, usually while changing yet another diaper, navigating sibling battles, or hoisting a child onto my side after a long day. Finally I will have reached the point where I can reclaim more focused time for my work—without interruption! Oh the daydreams this week has held over the years.
I thought I would feel revived.
Tonight I can only imagine the home will be quieter still. And even quieter still as the years go by. And how I’ll miss the sounds of lilting little voices, laughter, bickering, and bounding footsteps down the stairs that is the heartbeat of our family in our home.