Breaking the Silence

Swati Chauhan essays

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It had been over two days since the cold war between me and my husband began, neither of us ready to give in. The fact that we couldn’t remember exactly what we were fighting about in the first place seemed too dwarf a proposition against the more important task of catering to our mammoth egos.

I decided that I had to maintain silence no matter how irritating, boring, and inconvenient it was. It can be troublesome to the point of being absurd to continue with the no-talk strategy, especially if you have a household and a one-year-old to to take care of.

I had settled fights before and had been the first to break the ice on many occasions, but I wasn't willing to surrender. This time, he would have to speak first.

To add to my dilemma, I received a voice message from the family clinic reminding us that we had to take Amy, our one-year-old in for her annual check-up the next day.

I stood up with a jerk as soon as I saw the message. I walked into the other room, where my husband  had been sulking for the last 2 hours (but pretended to be deeply engrossed in reading) to remind him of the appointment. Just then, I remembered about our still-active cold war and stopped short in my steps. There goes my chance of winning this one and all the patience I had maintained for the last two days. I can’t give up now! I am on the edge of winning this time—which would be a first.

I sat back on the couch feeling confused and annoyed. Why couldn't he just let me win this time and be the first to speak up? I didn't remember the reason for our fight but I sure was furious at him for continuing the fight this long.

By a stroke of brilliance, I figured out my next move. I would just forward the message to him. There. I wouldn't have to talk (and lose!) and I could still remind him. I forwarded the message and waited a good 15 minutes. No response. I checked the message status—it showed that it sent.

Angrily I sent another one, “I am awaiting your confirmation”. Still no response. Now I was mad. I stomped to the study room and shouted from outside, “Can't you even say yes, I received your message.” To my surprise, I still didn't get a response.

This is it! He is really going to have it this time! I muttered angrily under my breath as I swung the door wide open only to see him deep in sleep with his headset in his ears connected to the iPod, snoring a little with his mouth slightly open. His phone lay on the table beside him.

I felt a big black cloud of guilt hang over me for jumping to the wrong conclusions and assuming that he was just being egoistical. I quietly stepped back to close the door for fear of waking him up. My focus then shifted on the adjacent door of Amy's bedroom that I had left slightly open so that she wouldn’t be scared when she woke up from her nap. Something seemed odd in her room.

As I peeped my head in, I saw Amy sitting on the bed awake, wide-eyed but quiet. It was an unusual sight because she had the habit of crying loudly if she didn't see anyone around when she woke up. But not today, today she was quiet. As I walked inside the room and sat on the bed next to her, she hurriedly crawled towards me and cuddled into my lap.

She hugged me tight and wouldn’t let go. It occurred to me, the reason for her sudden quietness. She had gotten up from the loud sound of my yelling and was scared. She had never heard anyone shout that loud before, neither of us had ever even spoken such a loud voice in front of her.

I hugged her tight and muttered sorry in her ear, hidden underneath her Hello kitty cap. She sobbed for a long time. My throat went dry and I felt a tear leave from the corner of my eye as I swallowed hard on mixed feelings of guilt and sadness for frightening my little angel.

Although I held Amy tightly in my arms, at that moment, I felt very small in front of her. I realized, before I can even think about how best to bring up Amy, I needed to get my own act straight. I needed to grow up myself. I needed to get down from the high horse of being a great parent and first just attempt to be a good person. As good as I could be.

I’m not sure if she heard me but I whispered in her ear as I put her back to sleep. Never again. I promise. Never again.

About the Author

Swati Chauhan

Swati Chauhan, a computer engineer and management graduate by education, is a writer by passion. She writes about varied topics like self growth, personal productivity and parenting at her blog , which has been voted the "Top European Blog 2013" by Circle of Moms.

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