Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Noise of Motherhood

As a newly minted, two-time national gold award winner for column, humor, I really feel someone needs to start coming over and doing my laundry. Bueller?

Anyway, here is my latest in Chicago Parent magazine. I am rather fond of the topic.

“My mom likes things quiet and clean,” my son Joey once announced to a good friend of mine.

“True, but how do YOU like things?” questioned a clearly amused Shannon.

“I like things LOUD AND MESSY.”

Seasoned moms advise that when a house suddenly falls quiet, it is time to worry. The kids are likely planning a coup or plotting some nefarious deed. Based on this hypothesis, I will never experience a moment’s angst with my youngest son.

He never shuts up. And my house is never, ever quiet.

Recently, Joey stood in front of a Cheesie’s food truck, debating his selections. An extremely patient employee encouraged him to take his time. Joey hemmed and hawed before revealing:

“I hate cheese.”

Undeterred, the young man attempted to steer his young patron towards several non-cheese options. Joey continued to waffle. Finally, the employee took a fresh approach and asked him what he loved most in the world. Without missing a beat, Joey replied:


During a hockey game for his brother, Joey abandoned his usual post as the leader of the younger siblings to corner one of the quiet dads. For nearly an hour, I nervously watched out of the corner of my eye. I waited for the man to either signal for help or simply walk away. He never did. I later discovered that Joey had bombarded the poor guy with random thoughts on life and its most pressing questions, including:

“Do you think it would be better to play dead when a bear attacks you, or do you think it would be safer to run away?”

I learned from the man’s wife that he had enjoyed his time with Joey, despite a lapse in grizzly bear knowledge.

Joey is not the kid you want next to you while playing hide-'n'-seek or robbing a bank. He works valiantly to keep it together during school, often writing himself reminders to stay quiet. Yet as the proud recipient of Mount St. Joey after seven hours of holding it all in, I find the explosive verbal barrage overwhelming:

“You know how cousin Gracie got a confirmation name? I want mine to be BOB. Have you seen my red sweater from kindergarten? I was keeping that for memories.”

“Remember, mom, how I threw up in school and on my book and on Mrs. Stankus’ shoes and down the hallway and she called it the ‘Oregon Trail’? It was SPECTACULAR. I wonder who cleaned my math book. Did you ever return that shirt they gave me, mom? Can I have some cake?”

“When you die, mommy, can you visit me? But don’t be a scary ghost or anything like that. Now that I think about it, you don’t really have to visit me. You can just stay in my heart. I miss Sue.”

For someone like me who prefers things “quiet and clean,” Joey has tested the very limits of my patience.

The kid also makes me laugh every day.

There will eventually come a time when Joey is not with me. He will grow up, move out, and hopefully share his enthusiasm and love of everything with the world.

Those moms who once told me to worry only when things were silent were wrong. My house will eventually fall quiet, and the unique and precious gift of Joey will be made all the more obvious.

Being his mom, to use his favorite word, has been truly spectacular.

Now who’s got cake?