wings and things

A very quiet house

on March 30, 2014

As many of you already know, Ming lives in an old shed we began to renovate for him years ago (before Anthony went into the nursing home). It has been a very long process but also very exciting. Once it was finally finished, with a new paint job, lino on the floor, windows put in, electricity connected and his bed moved out there (around six months ago) he began to sleep out there regularly. But it wasn’t until recently that he moved all of his stuff out of his old bedroom (in the house) to the shed. Then, two days ago, he moved our old refrigerator in there too so he now has that and a microwave, so he can be (sort of) self-sufficient when it comes to meals.

Ah, meals, yes – a contentious issue for Ming and me. You see he has always been extremely fussy with food. No, let me rephrase that; he has always been extremely FUSSY with food! Let me exemplify. As a newborn, he wouldn’t breastfeed or take a bottle without our coercion (Anthony’s confidence that he’d had this problem with calves, and he could fix it, was unfounded and Ming actually lost some of his scrawny birth weight in his first month of life). He simply wasn’t interested in any sort of sustenance full stop. That first summer of his life I had to actually syringe water/milk/custard/mashed banana into his sweet, rebellious little pursed lips. It was an absolute nightmare.

Long story short, he survived on the bare minimum for years. During toddler years it was crackers and orange juice and sometimes butter, but nothing else. Eventually I took him to a naturopath who did some magic and he got a bit of an appetite but he is still (at 20) one of the most unhungry people I have ever come across. He just doesn’t seem to have a normal appetite reflex thingy – a weird anorexia? Mostly, he doesn’t think to eat, meals are haphazard and then suddenly he will eat four steaks in five minutes.

Needless to say, Anthony and I gave up when he was a kid and just let him ‘graze’. And now that he isn’t a kid any more, he either rejects meals I prepare or says he isn’t hungry. So, a few weeks ago, Ming and I made a decision that has actually saved my sanity (and probably his). When it comes to food, he fends for himself. He buys and prepares his own food and I am not to interfere.

Well, since I don’t eat that much anyway, this has come as a bit of a relief. But it is so hard to let go of 20 years of trying to feed the brat and let him fend for himself.

But it’s so weird and so quiet now and it only hit me tonight. With Anthony now in the nursing home, and Ming in his shed, there is no need any more for me to buy, prepare or cook food for others, so there is no sound of something simmering on the stove or in the crockpot and, because there is nobody in the kitchen any more, the television is off, it is very quiet.

All those years ago, when I first met Anthony and his mother and family, this was the noisiest house I had ever entered – loud voices, radio blaring, eggs and bacon sizzling, kettle boiling, Aga thrumming, dairyhands eating, and big, boisterous Anthony yelling for more toast-and-marmalade please.

So now, with all of that fading into history, and Ants in the nursing home, and Ming in his shed, and food no longer being something any of us share any more, the house is deathly quiet and strange and a little bit unfamiliar.

46 responses to “A very quiet house

  1. mimijk says:

    My kids are all grown and gone..though they live nearby (well two out of the three do). Their coming over for brunch today, and the kitchen is once again a hub of activity. I miss the crazy noisiness in the house, the simmering food, the laughter and even the tussles. I understand how hard it is to adjust to a new ‘normal’. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t treat your wonderful self to delicious food and yummy smells. In fact, if anyone should make sure that she is treated well – it is you Jules.

  2. I like Mimi’s suggestion — the other one is… why not cook for a homeless shelter? You could create a stew and take it down on your way to visit Ants… πŸ™‚

    LOL — that is if you actually like cooking. I find without the girls at home, I am not all that interested in cooking a meal except on Sunday’s when we have a family dinner and my daughter invites all sorts of people over and we end up being 16 for dinner (like tonight) when I was expecting only 8! πŸ™‚ Truth is… I love it!

  3. Tiny says:

    Mimi said it all. I fully agree πŸ™‚

  4. we all go through phases–for a while my house was quiet and I missed the hubbub–now the hubbub is back and I am determined to enjoy it, knowing it is fleeting–but there is something to be said for quiet–but take good care of yourself and put the tv and radio on for company–that is what I do in the quiet periods

  5. ksbeth says:

    yes, a home goes through many phases, just as the family does. my children are all grown and with families of their own now. (including the one in bunbury), and it is quiet at my little cottage. except. when they all come to visit and the grandies have brought a renewed sense of welcome noise and chaos back to my home. and then they go home. and it is quiet and i can enjoy that too. this was a wonderful post, jules. almost poetic.

  6. Quiet ??? is that something I should know of ???? It seems I have had noise for more years than I can count right now, my chair sitter must have television on constantly and he talks loudly over it to the dogs constantly waking them when he talks or goes over to pet them. Enjoy your quiet my friend and don’t forget to eat…it is a necessity we all must have. Love and hugs

  7. Colline says:

    As with anything new, it will take a little time to get used to it. And then you may find you will enjoy the quiet πŸ™‚

  8. I would say that you have entered a period of transition from the constant strum of noise to now a different type of noise because if you close your eyes I am sure that you will still hear sounds, just different ones that were perhaps drowned out by the previous noise. It is really hard to find absolute silence. Take some time to get to know the quieter sounds in your house. Hugs Jules!

  9. And thus the expression, “if these walls could talk…” I actually cook more since my daughter left and I really enjoy food now and often make enough for many meals!
    Diana xo

  10. Incredibly well written and speaks so much on so many levels. We’ll see where the sequel take us, when Ming has to fend for himself (with food) for longer than a few days. Will he and the noise of sizzling return? Will the silence end? I’m staying tuned.

  11. susanpoozan says:

    It will be difficult to adjust but enjoy the peace and soon alternatives will come along.

  12. And don’t you find the silence so incredibly loud? I still do. Something I don’t get used to.

  13. elizabeth says:

    I know it is the start of a new phase Jules, but I still find it quite sad.

  14. Yes, the house suddenly gets very quiet. I hope you find hobbies and friends to occupy yourself so it doesn’t feel so lonely. I know with mine– who aren’t quite so nearby, they still appreciate food deliveries– and that keeps me quite busy!

  15. I hear you Julie because I feel this too πŸ™‚

  16. Yeah I get this when all my girls left home and Tim was fixing his own meals at weird hours this house took on a strange quietness now I have Kelli & Daemon her it has gone back to being loud and full of life again

  17. Judy says:

    Your words are a reminder of some similarities in my life. In my “former married life” the noise was deafening. I actually wrote a song “When Noise Turned to Music!” But honestly, I understand how silence is deafening in a way. It is filled with the noise of our thoughts and memories. There is sheer sadness remembering the noise as a sign of activity surrounding the loved ones who are no longer with us. That is the silence and emptiness, which causes my heart to ache. I have filled that hole with music and you will find something to help fill the hole you have. It’s hard to do that when the hole is gaping and fresh. Although Anthony is still with you – there is not only his absence in the house you are dealing with. It is the uncertainty of the future that causes thoughts to spin and sorry. I am sending you a huge hug. xoxo

  18. .While I do understand that it’s got to be disconcerting…. the change… the quiet…. I think sometimes we don’t want to cook for ‘just’ us….but now Julie you could cook exactly the things that you love yourself…. Take the time and enjoy the foods you like.. Diane

  19. diannegray says:

    I had one like that and all he would eat was sausages (but at least that was something). My house is very quiet now the children have all left home and it’s very hard to get used to at first. I think blogging helps (I just love this community). And you must remember to eat – sometimes it’s really hard when there’s no one else to feed πŸ˜€

  20. lensgirl53 says:

    My oldest grandson is the same way about eating. He is 21 yrs. old. I have never understood it cause my big bear Brandon was always eating and trying to keep his weight up and his muscles strong. To each his own, I guess.

    In a way, the quiet is a good thing but it is also a sad change. The “empty nest” sounds can mean so many things to those of us who are experiencing them. Our middle daughter (37 yrs old) and our granddaughter (12) just moved out last month after living with us for 8 years. The silence is deafening but we are savoring it and trying to enjoy being the grandparents we always wanted to be at a distance…somehow we feel more appreciated. πŸ˜‰

  21. FlaHam says:

    Julie, I think I am sad for you, I know I am a people person, and I need activity around me, so I know I would be lost in your situation. I also think your lost, I wish had a solution, all I can offer is my friendship from 1000’s of miles away. And maybe you crack up the stereo to break up some of the quiet. Take care, Bill

  22. Ah, silence… My kids sometimes drive me nuts because they’re so loud and constantly talking or making noise, but I’m not looking forward to the day they don’t make any more noise, especially I love a quiet moment. That empty nest thing really is an important transition, and I think it’s time you started taking care of yourself and enjoying some me time. When I have some time to myself and I don’t have to do any work (business or personal), I love spending time in the garden, or fixing things here and there in the house, or organizing, or hanging out with friends, or reading a good book, or doing one of my favorite things, taking pictures or drawing. I bet it’s been a long time since you’ve done something for yourself, and now you have the opportunity to do it. Enjoy!

  23. Judith Post says:

    Yikes, that would be hard to adjust to! Food is so central to our “coming together” times, and I love to cook so much, that would feel off-kilter to me. But it gives you lots of time to write:) Your characters can yak in your head, and sometimes, they’re downright noisy.

  24. Trisha says:

    That must be such a strange transition. I think I will feel very conflicted when my nest is empty. I will miss the kids being here but, oh, the relief of not being responsible for feeding other people! I have one of those difficult eaters too and it’s such a huge weight on my shoulders feeling responsible for his health. Still, I feel for you and I hope the quiet becomes more comfortable.

  25. My Heartsong says:

    You’ll have to adopt another bird. πŸ˜‰

  26. viveka says:

    I can image what a nightmare it has been with a toddler and small child that doesn’t eat – it’s worrying enough to be parents.
    Glad that you have sorted it out .. and let him feed himself .. my friend, Maja – had the same problem with her son and she have left it up to him now, 25 years old.,

  27. Lynda says:

    Julie, I read your exchange with My Heartsong above and suddenly had a vision of you at the kitchen table with a turkey for dinner. He was seated in another chair. ‘-)

  28. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    I find silence sheer bliss, but then I am the quiet solitary type.

    For a while……….enjoy the silence and treat yourself a bit. Just because there’s only one of you doesn’t mean you have to not cook (or eat much). Now it’s getting cooler, just cook big soups, casseroles etc when you feel like cooking and putting portions into the freezer, then, if you can’t be bothered cooking, at least you’ve got something to pull out of the freezer to ensure you stay healthy.

    I must admit I hate eating by myself at my dining table and tend to sit in my comfy ergonomic chair and graze. I love raw and/or crunchy food so when I can’t be bothered cooking, I just chop up a lot of raw veggies, put on a plate and graze while reading the computer or watching tv.

    Perhaps Louise has the right idea. Cook for someone else.

    Actually…… don’t groan…………one day you might consider a job cooking at a small nursing home. My Mother, as a great county cook, did it for years. Mum said the 20 or so she cooked for hardly ate much, so she’d cook a sponge or cake or scones for morning tea and casseroles, roasts etc for dinners. She said the pleasure she got from the eager anticipation of the residents at her wonderful home country cooking smells wafting around was worth every minute of time she put into it. She even made wonderful sandwiches.

    I’m sure you would have experienced how much some people look forward to good food when they can’t cook for themselves at Anthony’s home-away-from-home.

  29. I guess that is a good thing and a bad ting. Too much quiet may be unnerving.

  30. Barb says:

    I know that all changes seem strange at first, eventually, they become “normal.” But, oh the time of adjustment is often painful. Good luck with the silence.

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