Have you heard of the Hum? Starting in the 1950s there have been reports from around the world of a low-frequency rumbling sound that slowly drives people crazy. Not everyone can hear it. They say only two percent of the population is even effected by this. But it's there, slowly driving people mad - from Taos, NM to to Bristol, England.
I've recently encountered my own frequency of madness inducing humming. It's the constant whining of my fussy toddler. It sounds a lot like an emergency broadcast signal. Unlike The Hum, I'm sure most people can hear it. But I've been hold up in my apartment alone for three days with this continuous droning and it's become my own private hell.
I think as kids get older, parents begin to lose their ability to hear certain frequencies that coincidentally are the same frequency of their children's voices. We've all seen it - a father or mother, small child in tow yammering on about something, the parent oblivious to whatever their kid is saying. Maybe they don't actually hear them. Maybe over time parents actually develop a block. I don't know if there is any scientific evidence to back this up but I'm beginning to think it's possible. Almost a defense mechanism. Self-preservation induced hearing loss - to keep one from losing their mind.
I'm not gonna lie. Sometimes parenting feels like self-inflicted madness. I went to a "family-friendly" New Years Eve party this year. New Years is a holiday you usually have to give up after kids so the thought of getting a little dressed up and having a cocktail but still being home by 9pm sounded pretty appealing. But what I've come to learn about "kid-friendly" parties is they are really like "parent asylums". Kids run wild and parents in fancy dress clothes wander around half glassy-eyed and spaced out wondering how this has become their lives. This party in particular seemed to be populated by two groups - parents and singles considering becoming parents. Almost like visitors at the zoo.
I found myself in conversation with one dad in particular who I had come to think of as Super Dad. This is a man who was excited about buying a mini-van and who waxes poetically about fatherhood on Facebook. He's got two kids and asked if I was thinking about a second. Before I could even answer he launched into a terrifyingly convincing argument equating a second child to the death of your soul - punctuated by another father walking by and slipping him a Xanax. How many other dads in the room were palming the same? Maybe I just caught him in a moment of weakness. A short psychotic break - like the ones used in an insanity defense. But in that moment it was very clear - even the best of us have our breaking point. Maybe we all need to tune out every once in a while in order to be able to tune in the rest of the time.