I Love My Kid, But…Parenting Is Loud. Very Loud.

I Love My Kid, But… is Refinery29 and Red Baron’s exploration of the honest, often unspoken, realities and challenges that come along with parenthood.

Illustrated by Vero Romero.
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While there are countless joys associated with being a parent, it's no secret that parenting is difficult. There’s a reason for all the books, memes, and sitcoms. The challenges come in a variety of forms: There’s the cost, the responsibility, the lack of freedom. There’s the unpredictable nature of this tiny little person you created and the fact that just when you get used to one routine, they flip the switch and you're left scrambling again. Not a single baby book in creation can prepare you for the uniquely odd madness of parenting. Nor can the advice you get from friends and the myriad of well-meaning strangers. Not much is certain in parenting, apart from the fact that it’s not at all easy. However, of all the challenges that come along with it, there is one that just about everyone encounters: the noise.

Now, I get that I’m coming from a place of privilege with this — there are many more serious struggles that afflict other families, and I’m arguably blessed to be burdened with loudness. But there it is: The noise is my specific brand of kryptonite, weakening me daily with each passing decibel.

Illustrated by Vero Romero.

On most days, I am greeted by my children’s noise before I even see their sweet little faces. Starting first thing in the morning, I’m awoken by shrieking, whining, or fighting. As far as alarm clocks go, my precious children take the cake for reliability and innovation when it comes to rousing the house with the most noise possible. This clamor sets the tone for the day — a tone that is simultaneously ever-present as a steady background din and jolts through the body of the listener like an electric current. This unbearable loudness continues throughout the day, and on many occasions, throughout the night as well. In the store, while I’m on the phone, in pretty much any situation where they’re awake and within earshot. They scream when they’re happy, when they’re mad, when they’re excited, and as a primal way of fun and communication. Then there's the whining, the fighting, and the incessant questions. At the center of it all, most of the daily challenges that plague me as a mother are rooted in noise.

This clamor sets the tone for the day — [one] that is simultaneously ever-present as a steady background din and jolts through the body of the listener like an electric current.
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Now, the problem isn’t so much the noise itself but the effect it has on my brain. The noises they make are those of full-blown panic, dripping with urgency with no discernable lead-up. I find it extraordinarily difficult to complete a full thought within the confines of my skull during these moments. I can physically feel the loudness piercing through my veins and making my brain skip like a disrupted record. It has gotten to the point where if I have anything that truly requires my brain's attention, I have to leave the house. It’s incredibly hard to stay organized and participate in the world of functional adulthood when your brain is like a graveyard for partially rendered thoughts. Of all the hard things you must adjust to as a parent, coping with the noise was the one thing I was the least prepared for.

Illustrated by Vero Romero.

And it’s not only the sounds coming from the darling littles that will have you stuck in a perpetual loop of fight, flight, or freeze. There’s an elaborate symphony of auxiliary noises that are also coming for your sanity. These include battery-operated toys, television program jingles, and the perky sing-song nonsense that you listen to in car rides now. All of these sounds work in perfect harmony — a coordinated attempt to chip away at your last remaining nerve. I find that the side effects of the loudness of parenting reverberate throughout my entire life. The noise keeps me frazzled, isolated, and often feeling like I’m hanging by a thread.

All of these sounds work in perfect harmony — a coordinated attempt to chip away at your last remaining nerve.

This dread of noise dominates my daily routine. It’s what compels me to sneak around the house in fear of waking the baby. It causes anxiety when flushing the toilet after 8 p.m. It becomes all too easy to put off phone calls, become interrupted mid-thought, and stay indoors because of the havoc that can occur in public places. People are quick to prattle on about lack of sleep when warning new parents, however, they are mysteriously secretive about the noise. Welcome to parenthood! Let’s hope you hate quiet.

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The good news is that the well-meaning strangers interrupting your child’s grocery store tantrums are right — it does go by so fast. One day you realize that the screams have turned into whines, the whines turned into arguments, the arguments turned into blaring music, and the music turned into goodbyes. In a bizarre twist of fate, you find the silence deafening — the emotional rollercoaster of parenting has you longing for the pandemonium once again. You look forward to the day your halls will once again be brimming with noise, as you hear the sound of your children’s children hollering in your arms.

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