Thoughts on Quiet and Where I Went Wrong

ID-10070669My parents left our house on Saturday after a lovely and loud family dinner. They laughed on their way out and said they were going home to greet the Quiet.

I stood on the front porch, frozen for a moment with sudden longing, watching them walk away.

Because Quiet? I remember Quiet.

And I think I understand now why he left. I understand why he thought Chaos was my favorite. I understand that I showered Chaos with attention and that Quiet was hurt by my neglect.

I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t  notice the day Quiet packed his bags and left. I have plenty of excuses but I’m not sure they matter anymore.

I mean, sure, Chaos is gregarious and engaging, entertaining and enthusiastic, and he’s not inclined to judge my little people for so thoroughly rejecting modesty; Chaos is funny and he’s always doing something crazy that’ll make a good story later. Whereas Quiet? Not so much.

But it pains me now to think I never told Quiet while I had the chance that I value him just as much. His strength and silence. His poise. His calm. The unlikelihood he’d ever remove his soiled Superman underwear and twirl it above his head like a lasso before flinging it at my face and running away in delirious, naked joy.

So I stood on the porch on Saturday, and I wondered if it’s too late for Quiet and me. Have I done too much damage? Have I hurt our relationship irreparably?

Chaos came outside to stand beside me, wiggling his grimy hand into mine, and he winked at me and nodded. He knew what I was thinking, and he wanted me to know it’s OK; he’s not threatened by my love of Quiet. Chaos is sure of my devotion no matter how much I long for the wandering one. So I took a wild chance, and I called out to my parents to deliver a message.

I told my parents to tell Quiet hello.

I told them to tell Quiet that I miss him.

I told them to tell Quiet that I still love him, that I’ve never forgotten him, that I think about him all the time.

I told them to tell Quiet that there’s room for him and Chaos both. That I love them equally. That I’m sorry I didn’t show it. That I’d like to try again.

I asked them to let Quiet know he’s welcome anytime, and that I understand he’ll need some time to think about it. Maybe years and years.

It’s OK; I can wait for you, Quiet.

As long as it takes.



Does Quiet still live with you? If not, and if it’s not too personal, why not?
Have you ever welcomed Quiet back home? How did Chaos feel about that?
Have you found ways to live in harmony together? Without appearances of favoritism?
I just, you know, want to know it’s really possible.


“Volume Knob” image credit to Salvatore Vuono via

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
  1. I did not find this post to be weird… huh? I remember Quiet, he provided loneliness and a clean house. Chaos brings in a bit more joy.

    1. Oh yes, I remember a clean house, one that stayed clean for more then a few moments.

  2. I guess it’s just one of those things where the grass is always greener, you know. When Quiet and I were together, I longed for Chaos. but now that I’m going steady with Chaos, I wish that I could be with quiet again…Not that Quiet and I don’t steal away for a brief rendezvous, but it will never be like it was before.

  3. I have a newborn and a toddler so Chaos is seen more regularly than Quiet, but I do enjoy spending the little time I do have with Quiet… usually somewhere between awake and asleep as I drift away to the Land of Nod.

  4. There is more quiet in my house than there used to be …. child number one has flown the nest and the last three are older now. They go off into their rooms and do their own things on occasion and i sit and enjoy my time with Quiet … and then the doors bust open and Chaos is back and i am grateful. I love them equally, too much of either one and I start to miss the other!

  5. Chaos is my extroverted, life-of-the-party friend. Chaos is running beside me when I’m chasing after naked children covered in chalk, waving wipes wildly in the air. Chaos reminds me that there is life in my home, and that those things that sometimes overwhelm me (mess, noise) are proof that I am blessed and life is full.

    Quiet is my introverted confidant. Quiet shows up when chaos has left the building, and allows me to recharge. It’s quiet who’s standing next to me while I sneak into the kids’ rooms at night just to make sure everything is good, when I’m watching my baby peacefully sleeping and I listen to the faint sound of his content breaths, when I lay down at the end of the day and take a moment for myself. Quiet is there as I drift off to sleep, whispering in my ear not to worry, that he’ll see me again.

    Now, Silence- he’s just like an imaginary friend in my life. I wish he could stop by and play, but he never does. The few times I think I’ve caught a glimpse of silence, it’s been when I’m alone, and he makes everything seem suddenly empty. I guess it’s ok, though… chaos and quiet are enough for me.

  6. Love this. Quiet only comes to visit me in the middle of the night. Sometimes not even then. But he always brings with him “exhaustion” because the middle of the night is the only time I can find him and we can spare an hour or two together.

    1. Right there with you! Exhaustion needs a name, too.

  7. Quiet once dwelt with us. He twirled around us as my husband and I peacefully read books together. He trailed our footsteps as we took late night walks. He listened as Matthew read aloud to me, or I to him.

    I didn’t always like Quiet. I hated the way he sat heavy on my chest while Matthew was away on drill with the National Guard. He taunted me with that empty house sound. I would have gladly traded him in just to have my husband back.

    Perhaps it was that lack of appreciation that drove him away. All I know is that sometime around the sixth month of my little Rowan’s life I woke up one morning and realized that Quiet was gone forever.

    I catch glimpses of him now and again, when Henry is sleeping and Rowan is downstairs with Grandma. He’s circling the room right now as I fold laundry (really, I am!), trying to decide if he should stay. Most likely Henry will wake up and Quiet will flee into the night. Perhaps we can gently invite him back one day.

  8. I used to love to BLAST music in the car. But now if I’m child-free in the car I often just don’t turn any music on at all. You know, just a quickie with Quiet.

  9. I missed Quiet something fierce until I got divorced and had to surrender my son for visits with his dad. He would pack up Chaos with him and wave good-bye, and Quiet would slip in the door while I stared longingly after my child. It was absolutely suffocating and I don’t know that I will ever miss Quiet, or take Chaos for granted again.

    1. This is beautiful and poignant. Thanks for sharing, Andria.

  10. I hang out with quiet a lot, but I’m hoping by this time next year that will change. I used to make lots of plans to avoid quiet…not quite chaos, but his cousin, Mr. Busy. As I’ve gotten older, I enjoy chilling with quiet, but my extroverted personality feels ready to embrace chaos and busy…but don’t hold me to this when quiet runs away and I realize how much I miss him.

  11. I could not survive without Quiet! There have been times when she wasn’t around often, but I still clung to her and now that my kids are older Quiet and I are BFFs and hang out all the time!

  12. As a young, childless wife and 2nd-grade teacher, I relish my time with Quiet. Chaos reigns all day long, and I stand back and observe with awe the busyness and creativity that Chaos brings with him. But when I get home? When I get home I settle down comfortably with Quiet. I don’t even listen to music in the car most days, I’m so glad to be with Quiet. I know I will love the days when Chaos reigns in my home with small ones running around, but for now I’m grateful for my time with Quiet.

  13. I’m having an affair with Quiet. But it only happens 3 or 4 days a week from 8am to 3:05pm. And only on the days I don’t visit Chaos at school. Quiet NEVER comes around on the weekends. Or in the evenings during baseball/softball season. And Quiet told me today, when I saw him briefly after driving back and forth to the orthodontist, that I only have him for 1 more whole day and 2 more half days. He plans to vacation this summer and will only be around for a week in July, during church camp.

    And, don’t be heartbroken if Quiet doesn’t come around much during your empty nest years. I heard Quiet is kinda’ finicky…Husband’s Retirement and Grandkids kind of cramp his style.

  14. My love for quiet is why I fear the looming summer vacation. I love my three children dearly but I’m a better mama after my time in the quiet while they are off at school.

  15. My longing for Quiet has turned me into quite a night owl. Midnight trysts, you bet. While my husband is at work. Wait that sounds bad… It’s platonic, I swear! Three-headed Chaos sleeps soundly, and in a separate room. But Chaos has a one-month-old apprentice that sleeps less soundly and in my own room, so Quiet has to share me now. Or do i share Quiet, I forget. But I just can’t give up my Quiet completely.

  16. My ex utero kids are five and seven. With the older one learning to read voraciously, the younger a year away from it and increasingly Lego obsessed, and diligent application of introverted parenting techniques, we were welcoming Quiet back into our lives from time to time. Then we failed birth control. Quiet stays because Quiet is adored, but soon quiet will leave again once blessing number three arrives with all his chaos.
    Oh quiet.
    I’ll miss you.

  17. I am able to let Quiet come in after lunch, when my Chaos goes down for a nap. I can normally let Quiet out for a couple of hours. Sometimes I get a chance to catch up with Quiet when I am outside and I leave Chaos inside. It’s possible to have them coexist in the same day, just not always at the same time.

  18. I understand about fearing Quiet. I long ago pushed Quiet to the outskirts of my life. Chaos whirled and swirled around me and slowly worked his way into my head. Now Chaos fills my waking and sleeping moments. When Quiet approaches I hide behind Chaos and yell, “Stranger Danger!”. How can I get to know Quiet again when I’m afraid?

  19. While I do love quiet, I also must admit, I fear him! Yes, FEAR! My relationship with chaos has lasted almost 20 years. I almost dread the day that chaos moves out and quiet moves back in. After being gone so long, will I be able to live with him? I don’t know him anymore. Worse yet….I don’t really feel like I know me anymore! Perhaps that’s what quiet does. Gives time for Me to come back. I wonder if I’ll recognize me?

  20. I so get this. I call my lovely children the “whirlwood”. They are so loud and there are only 2 if them.

  21. I miss Quiet.
    I spent two years grieving for it. With four kids under four I didn’t have the time to wonder why. Then the kids got a little older and Quiet and I had a chance meeting. Suddenly I understood.
    As much as Chaos fills me with the strength and courage to be someone I’m not, Quiet balances me. Allows my introvert to speak and be heard. Quiet replenishes my soul.
    In the currency of time, Chaos may reign, but Quiet’s quality time is priceless.

  22. Ok. I admit. I’m having an affair with Quiet. We aren’t able to sneak away as nearly as I would like. We do find each other at the grocery store, sometimes in the shower, if Chaos decides to sleep in or when grandma decides that she needs a little Chaos in her life. I confess that as much as I really desire and want to be with quiet, Chaos would be missed. So I’m going to enjoy my five little Chaoses while I can before Quiet and I can enjoy each other more 🙂

  23. I usually have quiet during nap time. This is easy for me because I have one child, so once she’s down, I usually have 2 hours of quiet. Like right now, except today there are people doing yard work right out my window. I am missing my quiet time today!

    1. I remember those sweet moments with Quiet when my little one was younger. Now he’s five, and Quiet is hardly ever around anymore. I think he left the day after my son stopped taking naps. It was a sad day, and I’m just barely over it now, two years later.

      1. Shhhh! Mine is 4, she will nap until kindergarten!

  24. I lived with Chaos for so many years that I forgot who Quiet was! When he returned I was wary of his presence and didn’t know how to act around him. We were strangers, this once intimate friend of mine. But, we got used to each other and Chaos has now become a surprise visitor instead. Quiet and Chaos keep taking turns as my bosom buddy and my surprise visitor. At this point, I don’t know whose company I enjoy the most. Both are equal I think. If Quiet has left you, don’t worry, he’ll be back. If Chaos has left you, enjoy the visits when he returns. Embrace them both, they balance the seasons of the years–of this life!

  25. I took Quiet for granted, I admit it. While we lived together it was wonderful, but I guess I never though he’d actually leave. We had a good thing going, so why spoil it with any kind of long-term “let’s define our relationship” kind of talk? You know? Anyway, once Chaos showed up and demanded my attention, Quiet got a little annoyed that all I wanted to do was sleep every time he finally got some time alone with me. But I was just so dadgum tired! And here we are….nearly six years later and Chaos has taken over. I have a secret though…..Quiet still comes by from time to time. He sneaks in late at night when Chaos is sleeping, through a window if necessary. Oh and we do things, Quiet and I. You betcha, we do. 🙂

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