From Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul

Little Sounds

Work had piled up. I scooped the “Leaning Tower of Paperwork” off my desk. Underneath the mess poked a bright yellow envelope. Hmm, an unopened birthday card from my best friend. When did that get there? My birthday was two months ago! Studying the postmark, I realized the card had been mailed on time. I was the one who was late in opening it. I’d let it get buried under the mounds of paper and then had forgotten it.

Lately I’d been occupied with pressing projects, laundry, meals, my husband, Mike, and two kids (and let’s not forget the dog!). I barely recognized anything less monumental than the sun rising and setting. I was too busy with important things. There just wasn’t time to stop and notice the little things.

Like all moms, I’d been busy. But there was something I couldn’t miss. My eight-month-old, Andy, seemed to be hurting. At night he’d wake up repeatedly, crying.

“What’s the matter, little guy?” I asked one night, trying to soothe him back to sleep. Mike took a turn holding a bottle. But soothing and feeding didn’t help. Andy cried and held his hand to his ear.

The next day, the doctor confirmed our suspicion. Andy had a double ear infection. “He was probably born with ear infections,” she commented. She started him on antibiotics. No sooner had he finished one course, though, than he got another infection. A few months later, the doctor scheduled him for a minor operation to insert drainage tubes in his ears. By the time he was three, he had to have another operation. I felt awful. In his short life, he’d practically never been without an ear infection.

The operation went smoothly. Andy soon came out of the anesthesia and was banging at the hospital bed rails, ready to break out of there. We bundled him up and took him home, along with a list of instructions and medicine.

That night I pulled the covers up under his little chin. “I was brave boy, right, Mommy?”

“Yes, you were very brave,” I replied, kissing him good night.

“I love you all the way to Jupiter,” he said, as he did every night.

“And I love you all the way back,” I replied as usual, and flicked off the light.

We half expected Andy to wake up during the night as he had before, but he slept right through. The operation must have worked! For the first time in months, it seemed his little ears were pain-free.

But the next night, he woke up crying. Oh, no, not again, we thought, rushing into his room. “Andy, what’s the matter?” I asked. “Do your ears hurt?”

Andy choked back his tears. “No, Mommy.”

“Do you feel sick, then?” asked Mike.

“No, Daddy,” Andy replied.

“Well, what could be the problem?” I sat on the edge of his bed and felt his forehead. It wasn’t warm.

“I heard sumthin’,” he said, eyes wide. We grew still, listening.

“That! That!” he said, frightened. We didn’t hear anything.

“What’s that tick tick sound?” He covered his head with his blanket.

Mike and I looked around the room and finally noticed something on his nightstand. “Andy, it’s only your little blue alarm clock,” Mike laughed. Andy peeked out from under the covers. “Haven’t you ever heard that before?”

“No,” said Andy. We were amazed. His many ear infections must have affected his ability to hear softer sounds.

Later, Andy made more discoveries. For the first time he heard the swoosh his corduroy overalls made when he walked, the huuummm of the refrigerator’s motor. Every day we reveled in his new discoveries. At night when I tucked him in, he giggled at the sound of his hair rustling against the pillow.

What a joy, I thought, to be so delighted by something so simple. That’s the way I wanted to be! Looking at Andy, his eyes starting to droop, I made a resolution. Working or not, I wasn’t going to be too busy to notice the little things anymore. Like the tick of a clock or the sound of my little boy’s voice as he whispers, “I love you all the way to Jupiter.”

Peggy Frezon

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