These Are Wonderful Sounds

One thing that hits you from the very first moments of being a parent is the noise. Your children come out screaming and they don’t stop. It makes you realize how quiet life was before—a quiet you will never know again, except for those few odd hours in a hotel room on a business trip and the precious evening hours between their bedtime and yours.

And yet, it’s a wonderful noise. The “Christmas morning creaks” that Bon Iver sings about—the muffled, but impossible to contain sounds of the energy of anticipation. The laughter of a toddler who has discovered something hilarious for the first time. The sound of your boy on his drum kit in the garage or with his heavy metal band—so awful and yet so earnest. The sound of your daughter and her friends in the playroom. The pitter patter of footsteps coming to your bedroom in the middle of the night. The slam of the back door when your teenager is home from school. Even the yelling of a sick kid has a kind of love to it—they need you, they want you, you’d do anything to help them.

There is a beautiful but often unattributed observation from a parent about how the first years of being a parent are defined by so many loud noises that you can barely hear it. Then one day, your children grow up and leave and suddenly your house is filled with a silence so harsh you can barely stand it. They are like unique forms of agony, one you will find yourself longing for before you know it, the other you will desperately hope never comes.

While we can, we must hear every one of these wonderful sounds. We must appreciate what each one represents and says to us. We must listen to them. For they are the sounds of life. They are proof that there is love in this house, and confirmation that as a parent you’re doing something right.

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