I'm sure most mothers of young children can relate to feeling overwhelmed from auditory over-stimulation. When all the kids walk in the front door after a day at school and each one has something to share right then, over top of her sisters' voices, my skin crawls. Or when I make some sort of announcement and everyone vomits their questions, projectile words all over me. The insistent, immediate nature of people talking to me all at once makes me want to pull a Zack Morris and time-out freeze-frame that situation.
Earlier this week, on a morning Summer was in preschool, the house was quiet. I lit a candle, poured a warm mug of Ovaltine and sat down to work a bit. After tending to some administrative matters and following up on some pitches, I decided to look into literary journals. Maybe I could submit some of the pieces I've written, or write something tailored to a more specific audience. Silly, ignorant me, I thought I'd find a handful of such publications. I found hundreds, all with calls for submissions. I got excited, then motivated, then anxious, then overwhelmed and I suddenly wanted to turn off my computers (both literal and metaphoric) and sleep.
The noise in my head rivalled my excited children. I looked for ways to turn down the noise in my head the rest of the week. I went for a long country drive to pick up our turkey. I cooked dinner without music on while the kids watched a TV show. I practiced a challenging yoga sequence that would not allow for my mind to focus on anything but the poses and my sweat level. I found I had to cultivate some peace and quiet, because sometimes the world's volume becomes too much for me.
Thanksgiving long weekend in our family is all about scaling back, preparing and eating food, sharing with family and friends. and taking time to be especially grateful. It is about the glass of red wine slipped slowly, ambient jazz music, and sitting to read a book with a girl in my lap. It is about more than listing for what we are grateful around the dinner table. It is capitalizing on the opportunity to create stillness in my mind so I can adequately take stock of the blessings around me and feel grateful. Experience the gratitude. Surely, these things and people and chances around me are all worthy of my gratitude.
We went for a walk in the woods, which satisfied all our intrinsic needs. The girls ran wild, yelling about crocodiles in the swamp and chasing each other. I listened to my feet crunch over leaves and stomp on solid, packed trail dirt. I looked up to see myself immersed in an unbelievably beautiful painting of deciduous foliage, alight with fire hues. It felt a little like time had frozen, and I was allowed to keep walking through the scene of falling leaves, taking care to notice each one's particular shape and colour.
All that to say when things become loud again this weekend, in my kitchen or in my head, I will resist the urge to crumple inwards. I will instead try to be thankful for all these little voices, all my railroading thoughts, for they make my life whole.