Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment. ~Henry David Thoreau
“Want to know how many times I’ve seen new parenthood go smoothly?” my midwife asked before Ezra, my oldest son, was born four years ago.
My husband and I exchanged nervous glances and shook our heads.
“Not even once.”
A few weeks later, as we took turns trudging up and down the hallway with a howling infant, meandering around heaps of laundry and leaning towers of bills, we understood what she meant.
Fast-forward three years.
We are seasoned parents. Experts, if you will. Parenthood will surely go more smoothly the second time around, right?
Ahem. Perhaps not.
“The only time most people feel alive is when they’re suffering . . .” Ted Hughes wrote in a letter to his son. “That’s why the things that are worst to undergo are best to remember.”
He could have been talking about birth, about those first few weeks and months with a new baby. I remember them so fondly, but when I wipe my eyes and really look, there’s a lot of suffering there.
The second birth was more difficult than the first, and while Ezra delighted in nursing, Ira was rather unenthusiastic about the whole ordeal. So, for several long months, breastfeeding consumed our lives. Meanwhile, three-year-old Ezra struggled to adjust to a new sibling, a maelstrom of confusing emotions, and a new daily rhythm with distracted and exhausted parents.
And that’s where I left you all last September to dig in for my long pause.
I didn’t intend to be quiet for quite so long. But it was a year that demanded a certain amount of silence.
It was a year full of joy and sorrow, a year full of living. We welcomed our sweet, watchful, curious, cheerful Ira into our lives. And I lost my father, Edward Kenneth Quillen III, who had a heart attack and passed away suddenly on June 3.
My dad was a loyal reader of this blog, dare I say, my most loyal reader. He often told me that he felt closer to me after I started my blog, that it helped him stay connected to me. And for quite a while after he died, I couldn’t imagine writing a post without him here to read it. But, of course, I know my dad would want me to continue sharing my thoughts and connecting with other people.
The beauty of taking a long, silent pause, even one filled with other writing projects, is that I find myself bursting with ideas again, restored, full of words.
Thanks to those of you who’ve checked in during my sabbatical, left comments, and sent emails. I so appreciate it, and I look forward to connecting with you again in this space. I’m working on a posting schedule that will lend itself to the perfect balance of silence and words.