When I was young, I played in my neighborhood with my friends until well after dark, hollering and screaming and making an unearthly racket. When I was young, I listened to music so loud in my car that the windows rattled and I danced and sang along. When I was young, I would make snide comments about old people who wanted it quiet and went to bed at 8pm. Old people who would come out of their musty houses, shaking their fists at us and telling us to shut up.
I know exactly when I made the transition from young to old. It was when I had a baby. Noise became the enemy. That tiny baby girl fought sleep like Rocky Balboa. I spent so much time leaning over the side of her crib to get her to go to sleep that my back became hunched over and it became necessary to hike my pants up to the bottom of my ribcage to keep them from falling off. I sprouted some grey hairs. My eyebrows lowered until they almost obscured my sight. I became permanently grouchy. I was OLD.
Most of my day consisted of “Putting The Baby Down“. Usually, the process would go something like this: I’d lay her down in crib and give her a pacifier. She’d spit it out and pop up to have a look around. I’d lay her head back down, give her the pacifier, and rub her back. She’d raise up, spit the pacifier across the room, and wail at me. This would go on for at least 30 minutes. Finally, her eyes would start to close. I would hold my breath. She’s….ASLEEP! I would tiptoe out of her room, but alas! I forgot about the squeaky patch in the floor! Damn! Her little fuzzy blonde head would pop up and she’d say to me, “Just WHERE do you think YOU’RE going?“ I’d hang my head and skulk back to the side of her crib for another round of pacifier hockey. When she was finally asleep and I had leapt, ninja-like, across her room, avoiding the squeaky patches and closing the door, anything and anyone that made noise above one decibel was in danger of being destroyed by a bloodshot-eyed, sleep-deprived, new mother. The lawncare workers who started mowing at 6am got the scare of their lives when I burst out my front door, howling for them to beat it or I’d suffocate them with their clippings bags. Shouting children on bikes would watch as my curtains were snatched back and my snarling face appeared at the window, daring them to keep it up. My husband knew that even though he needs the TV volume up at unreasonable levels to be able to enjoy his viewing experience, to do so when the baby was asleep would be taking his life in his hands. Any neighbors who had the unmitigated gall to throw a party and play loud music had the cops called on them, even though a year before I’d been one of the loudest guests. I have never claimed to be fair.
Later, when my daughter was 3-½, I had my son. Like his sister before him, he acted like taking him to his crib for a nap was leading him to the guillotine. I was once again the zombie mother, and it didn’t help that four of my friends had babies around my son’s age and ALL of them slept through the night by six weeks old. We had tried to prepare our daughter for the arrival of the new baby, telling her that sometimes, she would have to be quiet. Unfortunately, sometimes turned into all the time, because even if the baby wasn’t asleep, Mommy was cranky and tired and didn’t like loud noises. Our house became a BE QUIET zone. The rule was that you were always quiet unless you were otherwise instructed. My daughter began requesting trips to Nana and Grandpa’s house just so she could bang a few things around.
My son didn’t start sleeping through the night until he was nine months old. I was being punished for all of the laughing I did at old people who just wanted it quiet, for now I was old. I wanted it quiet, I wanted my sleep, and I wanted it starting at exactly 8pm!
“Yeah, well, we want food”, my children said. “And we’re wearing towels like togas because you haven’t done any laundry and we’re bored and one of us is poopy and we’re developing lung disease because the house is so dusty!”
Now I understand why the older people get, the more welcome death is. At least then you can rest in peace and quiet.
4 months ago