Before I had kids, I didn't think too much about how my quiet weekends would be gone. After I had kids, I realized I needed to find a way for us to get some rest and quiet, while still being together.
It was a weekend in early April and my house was filled with the sounds of a crying baby and a running toddler. Tiny feet on the hardwood floor. Clank of a plastic sippy cup against the edge of the table.
I was tired of being in the house with the kids and my husband was tired from being on call overnight.
I tried to snap a bib on our youngest son, but he kept arching his back as he screamed, his fists curled tight, his face bright red. My older son sat in his booster seat and knocked all his cheerios on to the floor in one swipe.
My husband and I looked at each other--that classic, tired, parent-look of "Another day to get through."
"Are we bad at this?" I asked my husband.
"No," he said, picking up the cheerios off the floor. "Which isn't to say we excel either."
I laughed. Nothing like kids to keep you humble.
It's no surprise that kids equal noise. Lots of noise. But all the same, my husband and I were caught off guard when we became parents and realized that our quiet weekends were now gone. We are introverts and nothing helps us recharge after a long week like getting to relax at home, in a space that is calm and quiet.
Before we had kids, my husband and I would often wake late, after a night spent chatting with friends on our back patio. We'd grab breakfast at a little diner on the corner and come home and read in our duplex. I'd get the afternoon to paint and my husband would cook. We'd bask in the quiet, in the way the moments would slip away peacefully.
But there were times there was too much quiet. Something was missing. My husband and I both felt it: our lives didn't start and end with us. Having kids would be a natural disruption in our quiet lives, and we'd all have to grow to figure out how to adjust.
But that weekend back in April all I knew was that what we were doing wasn't working. So we packed the kids up in the car and drove north of our house, to a nearby nature reserve. Wildflowers bloomed in the ditches and the sun warmed the last cool edges of winter.
The kids were still fussy when we first pulled them out of the car, but my husband and I were invigorated by the new scenery. We walked on a dirt path along a pond, the tall grass rustling in the wind.
Our youngest son was beginning to be lolled to sleep in his baby carrier, when we startled a flock of ducks. They bolted into the air right in front of us, startling us as much as we'd startled them. Their bright green feathers caught the sunlight and the only sound was their flapping wings, beating the air.
We stood still, transfixed, each of us quiet, and all of us more together than we'd been just moments before.
As we kept walking, taking in the grass and trees and birds, I thought of how we're not introverts because we don't like things going on. We're introverts because we like the time and space to respond to whatever we are engaging with. Maybe the way to get back the restful weekend we used to have, would not mean staying in to have quiet, but would mean going out to get quiet.
It's always trial and error, and most weekends are still not as restful as we'd like. But I've discovered that by having other things to see and experience, we actually can get more quiet time together that feels both private and shared.