The noise is almost deafening. Scampering about the living room, my son gathers his blocks. They clack against one another as he carefully constructs a skyscraper. “VrOOOOOOm! VrOOO – vrOOOOOm!” I hear his car imitation, and I can envision what is about to happen. Crash! Brandon squeals with delight. His car just had a head-on collision with a skyscraper.
“All broken, Momma!” he hollers. “Momma, come! All broken!”
“Just a second! Just a second!” he screeches back like a parrot.
“Momma! Come, Momma!” He cries are persistent. And very, very loud.
“Just sit down and be quiet!” I call to him impatiently.
Then I freeze. I have just said the words that I swore would never pass through my lips. Brandon is undaunted and keeps hollering, but I hardly hear him now. I’m remembering my promise to myself and its reason.
Our first son was Matthew, and he was born with a heart defect. Because we didn’t know how much time we would have together, we lived every day as if it were our last. Nothing got in the way of playing with Matthew. Dusting, laundry, chores – all went undone as I cherished my moments with my son.
I was a proud stay-at-home mother; I could think of no job that equaled it. It wasn’t a prestigious title, and money was tight, but nothing beat getting my pay check in the form of first steps, first words, smiles, and hugs and kisses. I used to receive my pay in a white envelope. How could that compare with the feeling I got when I held my son, a warm and full sensation, starting from deep within and rising like the sun bursting forth? This was my calling. I savored my time with Matthew and thrilled at the new baby that was already squirming in my belly.
When I was six months pregnant with baby number two – the now-boisterous Brandon playing in the next room – we traveled to Switzerland from our home in Germany to have Matthew’s surgery. We had painstakingly researched to find the world’s best surgeon for the job, and his work on Matthew was exceptional.
But complications arose. Matthew died. Deafening silence filled the next three months.
My ears strained in the empty house for Matthew crying “Momma!” I woke in the middle of the night expecting his cries, a scream at the top of his lungs, anything! But all that greeted me was oppressive silence.
Never will I tell a child of mine to sit down and be quiet, I vowed. Never.
Brandon broke the silence two days before Christmas, emerging from my womb kicking and squalling. He carries inside himself a perfectly healthy heart and the energy and excitement of ten children.
And he never gives up. He’s standing at our child safety gate now, still calling, “Momma!” I go to him, and he holds out his arms, smiling. “Big hug, Momma.” I wrap him in my arms and hold him tightly. Another pay check.
As I put him down, he pulls on my pants leg and says, “Come! Come, Momma. Sit down, Momma, ” luring me to his play. The living room is strewn with toy cars and blocks. I turn toward the kitchen and see the dishes piled high, three baskets of clean clothes ready for folding. “Sit down, now!” Brandon commands, his eyes sparkling with excitement.
“What’s the magic word?” I ask.
“Please” he cries. I sit on the floor. Playing cars can be awfully fun, and I’ll have plenty of time to clean the house when Brandon is eighteen.
We vrrOOOOm and screech. We are very, very loud.
Call my name all you want, son. Run around. Fill our life and home with the pitter-patter of little feet and the wonderful music of a child’s laughter. Just remember, when you are grown with children of your own, don’t tell your children to sit down and be quiet.
Silence is not always golden.
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