• Tue, Oct 30 2012

After 9 Years Of Motherhood, I Can Block Out Any Noise

selective hearingOne night last week, I was leaving a restaurant with a friend of mine, after what I thought was a great dinner, when she sort of huffed, “Well THAT wasn’t the most relaxing dinner.” I wondered, for a second, if I had been complaining too much about something, or if the service was bad, but before I could wonder too much she added, “I hate being seated next to babies and kids.”

The ironic thing is, she HAS kids. And, as I told her, truthfully, I didn’t even NOTICE that there was a baby and a couple of kids seated next to us. Obviously, this doesn’t happen to every mother, but I definitely consider myself lucky that I have, what I like to call, “selective hearing.”

Who doesn’t know someone who has complained about the worst airplane ride in the world, because they were stuck seated beside a family with five kids, or seated next to a mother and a screaming baby with an earache? To me, I don’t even notice crying. You could put a screaming baby next to me, and I have the amazing ability to actually fall asleep during all the noise.

Long ago, when I took my firstborn on her first plane ride, and bought her her own seat (plane seats were much cheaper back then) I actually did fall asleep. I woke up from a dream of hearing a screaming baby, before I realized – doh! – it was my screaming baby.

I think, when you are a mother, there is just so much noise. I’m not just talking about crying babies, or toddlers having tantrums. I’m talking about all their annoying toys. Rattles, swings that make noises, toys that make music. In fact, I can’t walk around my house now without walking into something that makes some sort of noise. I’ve become immune to noise of all kinds.

I can now write in my house, even though there is a house being built next door to me, with jackhammers literally going every day for eight hours. I can walk into a birthday party, with 30 screaming kids listening to top 40 hits and dancing and squealing, and, although I’m aware it’s happening, I really don’t care. I can block out the noise.

You can reach this post's author, Rebecca Eckler, on twitter.
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  • ipsedixit010

    “Babies (and texts and e-mails going off at all hours) are not going
    anywhere. So you can either let it bother you, or you can learn to have
    selective hearing.”

    Part of living in a polite society is concern for others. This type of “deal with it” statement is what gives us parents a bad name.

    I have selective hearing with my kids in my own home. You have to or else you go insane. However, if I take them out, I’m not so passive. If my baby is screaming, I’m taking him outside. If he’s inconsolable and that means boxing up a meal, oh well. It would be rude to sit there mid-freakout subjecting everyone else to his tantrum. Plus, he needs to learn that behavior is NOT acceptable, especially in public.

    We do not go out to eat with my SIL and her family anymore because she has “selective hearing” (and “selective discipline”). It’s embarrassing to be associated with them when their kids are running around the table, screaming, crying, etc. We don’t let our kid do that, so we’re not going to be OK with it from anyone, even family.

    • Julie

      I work as a waitress. I’ve learned that most often, parents don’t react to their out-of-order children in the way you’ve described. As a matter of fact, I can only think of one time in the past twelve years that I’ve worked in restaurants that a parent boxed up their child’s meal because they were acting up. Once. It’s reinforced the fact that I won’t ever let my child act that way in public. However, besides the one time where Rebecca talks about falling asleep on the plane while her child cried, I didn’t hear her say that she wants others to “deal with it” when it’s her children in public acting up. She’s talking about being able to tune other people’s kids out. Which I think is fine. I have a tendency to zone out when people are talking to me sometimes. My mind wanders and I’m off in space. I don’t do it on purpose and it actually kind of bothers me that it happens. I wish I was more attentive. Hey, I get where you’re coming from- and if she can tune out other people’s kids, there’s no reason to say she can’t tune out her own when she’s in public and let them act unruly. She just never really says that that’s the case.

    • MommyK

      From other articles by Rebecca Eckler, it sounds like her daughter is quite well-behaved, so I don’t think she really uses the selective hearing on her own kids, just on other people’s annoying kids.

  • Rebecca

    I’ve got selective hearing, but unfortunately not my husband. He’ll complain about the slightest stomping or slammed door. He actually makes me more crazy then the kids because he’s on top of them for every noise.