Tuesday, May 01, 2007

On Silence and Quiet

To be honest, it was easy to engage in the one day of blog silence yesterday. I probably would have been silent yesterday even if there hadn't been a blogosphere-wide day of silence and contemplation for the Virginia Tech victims.

I've been away on a work trip — still am — and the time has itself been filled with silence. Not the silence of trying to coax one's language-impaired child into speech, but the silence of working in solitude in a quiet place, where the only "noise" is the internal sound of the ideas that one is knocking about inside . . . In a Zen sort of way wouldn't qualify as silence at all, but compared to my usual life in the city, it's a miracle of quietude.

I am ambivalent about being away from Sweet M and Fathersvox for work. It's necessary since I'm currently the primary wage earner for the Vox family and the contract I'm working on requires it. But it's also a guilty pleasure. I get a great deal done when I am away. And my body relaxes in ways that it never does when I'm at home with them in the city, in our rather crowded apartment where, when the window are open and street noise is light, one can actually hear the sounds of the subway pulling into the station.

But it's not just the street noise that makes the city noisy. Somehow when I'm at home with M and her dad, I feel as though my attention is divided . . . that I have antennae that are out, searching for information about what they're up to, what they're thinking, what's next on the agenda. When I am home I feel as though I am constantly attending . . . Much as an attending (as in attending physician) is required to be attending, on call. When I'm away, my antennae are drawn in and I can rest. I can think. I can work with a focus – an intensity – that tends to elude me when I'm at home.

I began to wonder how this might be for other autism parents. Do you ever get a respite from your autism caregiving responsibilities? Do you have this experience of quietude and shifted attention that is so refreshing and productive? And if so, do you know of any ways to bring this back with you, so that you can find quiet amidst the demands of your daily life?

11 comments:

Another Autism Mom said...

I think all Moms (not only autism moms) need a break from kids and husband every once in a while. Even when we're in the house. One Saturday I just told my husband: "I need a moment where nobody is demanding anything from me". And closed our bedroom door and took a nap by myself.

I don't yearn for a business trip or anything that would make me spend a night away from them. But I do love to take a few hours off to do something just for myself: go to the gym (like once a month...), go to a cafe' and read, have my hair done, or go shopping for new clothes.

kristina said...

I spent Sunday in the library of my undergrad days----felt like a superannuate one, wrote well and felt peaceful; walking across campus with the sun setting a thousand memories of other Sunday evenings like this came in and while I walked without missing a beat to my car, I felt something pulling me back, and back. I walked on.

Joeymom said...

I work for ETS, so twice a year I go to New Jersey overnight. I hate going, because everything gets all screwy when I'm gone, but there is something nice about beingable to take a real shower, eat my own dinner, and spend a whole hour in complete an utter silence.

a mommy said...

I very infrequently get a break to myself, like an overnight business trip. GOD, just getting one night of solid sleep makes such a difference for me. I need a break now and then or I become pinched and sour like spoiled fruit.

I am never sure whether it is the physical assault of having the boys check themselves on me for vestibular and proprioceptive input constantly, or the constant noise of them that is more stressful. But I am definitely an introvert, and need to recharge the batteries utterly alone every now and then.

MPJ said...

I am with the kids all day (one 6 year old with autism, and one 3 year old NT) and it is exhausting. Add to that being an introvert who needs alone time to recharge -- and I am all about breaks!!

My husband and I have built time off in to our schedules. We take turns doing bedtime (a very drawn out process with my son) and give each other regular breaks on the weekends.

We get some respite care money from the state (thank goodness!) so my husband and I go out once a week just to have dinner and an adult conversation -- and I use any extra hours to get out by myself. I try to get away by myself one weekend a year (not enough, yet still more than we can afford). And I go to yoga classes regularly and meditate and try (usually unsuccessfully!) to bring that stillness into my day.

kyra said...

i really don't have this and i sorely need it. i have hopes that i'll find a way to include this in my days once we move in the fall and i can share some of the homeschooling with someone wonderful and dedicated and gifted. it's been a long time since i had any real and regular and extended chunks of time "quietude and shifted attention that is so refreshing and productive" as you so beautifully put it. but i am glad you are having a chunk of it, mothervox! it's so critical!! you deserve it! we all do!!

Mom to Mr. Handsome said...

That's exactly how I have been feeling! I never thought of it that way, but I am always on call, always on duty, always on edge. The time away must be nice. What's funny, is that when I am away, alone to do what I need to get done, I miss my antennae and those that depend on them :o)

Kristin

MothersVox said...

Kristin, I know what you mean about feeling a bit lost when one's antenna are out and there's nothing coming back! That usually happens to me for the first couple of days, then somehow I get less attuned to the outside and more aware of what's going on inside . . .

I don't know what I would do if I didn't get some time like this . . . even with the demands of working, it's such a break!

And being back I am refreshed and happy to see my loved ones . . . there is more of my attention for all of us when I can pull back, refresh and recharge.

Kyra, you must do this! You deserve it! Just book a spa weekend for yourself! Though you're off in Mexico right now, so you'll probably want to settle in when you get back, then book a weekend away. You will love it. Between the bio-identicals and a weekend away, I guarantee you'll feel like a new woman.

MPJ, how do you get respite care from the state? That must be great!

And Kristina and Joeymom and I will probably continue having our work provide temporary vacations! The love pulls us back, always the love pulls us back, but pulling away has its own joys. . .

Frog's mom said...

We are blessed with extended family who are a big part of our kids' lives. I've just come back from a break myself and my vow to myself is to keep up with the yoga I did while I was away.

Happy Mother's Day Mothersvox!

Sholom said...

Fuck your blog silence!

The preceding flashback has been a shameless self-promotion.

Sholom said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.