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Opinion

The quiet is hard to get used to when school starts again

It's quiet in my house.

I get to work from home a lot. I try to spend as much time as I can in Morris, and there are always meetings and events and things for me to do there. While I have space to work over at the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce office, I find that the majority of the time when I'm around town, I'm working from my car.

But when it's time to sit and write and organize and put together the latest edition, I usually just walk into my guest bedroom, which doubles as my home office. It's pink. It has a generous white desk. There's a television set and a fan and the dog sits at my feet.

It's a nice space to work from.

But now it's quiet.

I had a great deal of fun this summer. I started a new job which has been a lot of additional work compared to my last job, where I was a writer but not an editor. I went on a girls weekend. I've gone to see my Dad a few times in Wisconsin. My husband and I have hit up a bunch of festivals and car shows and breweries and Joliet Slammers games. I've been busy.

I let my children have a lazy summer vacation. I let them sleep in when they wanted, and play video games, and if they didn't want to come with us to go grab a bite or see a game, I was fine with it. I took them out here and there but made it mandatory that they loaf around. They don't' get to be lazy for very long, might as well enjoy it now.

But apparently, for all the work I've been doing from home, I didn't realize that there was still quite a bit of domestic chaos going on around me. The sound of TVs or video games. Playing with the dog. Talking to each other. Talking to me while I was clearly trying to work. My children don't make the kind of noise that toddlers make anymore, but I didn't realize they were so very loud all summer long.

And now, it's quiet in my house.

The quiet surprised me. My children are an eighth grader and a senior, so it's been many years since I had that feeling of sadness when a little one scoots off to school at the start of the year. When my oldest went to school for the first time, I was a typical mom who cried as she drove away, worried how my little baby would handle the afternoon without me.

When my youngest first went to school, however, instead of sad I was almost relieved. He was in pre-K three days a week while the other one was in third grade. Which meant that for three days a week, I had the house to myself.

Sad? I wanted to run a victory lap.

And that's how it's been every year as they both head back. I finally get some "me" time, hooray!

But for whatever reason, this year's first day hit me with the sads again. I found myself noticing every single sound the house was making. Every car that drove by. The mailman. The washing machine. A helicopter flew over. Do helicopters fly over a lot?

It took me until well past noon to realize what I was fighting the whole time.

I missed them. I missed them as if they were back to that pre-K stage, and I didn't like being without them near me for too long.

I started a new job the exact week they ended their school year. So as I eased into my new normal, they were part of it. Their loud noises, their questions, their games, their endless snacking. The sound of the pantry door opening and closing over and over. It squeaks. The hinge needs some WD-40. But not now. There aren't any noises. Because it's so quiet in my house.

Now it's just me and the dog. And he just wants to sleep all day, so he's hardly the distraction he was when two boys were around to throw him a toy or grab him a treat.

"See you later," my 13-year-old said, headed out the door on the first day without looking back.

"Are you excited for school," I heard my neighbor ask my 17-year-old senior as he got into his car on his first day of classes.

"My last first day of school," he told her. And off he drove.

It's quiet in my house.

• Marney Simon is the editor of the Morris Herald-News. She can be reached at msimon@shawmedia.com.

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