Dead Tired

Tired. Ask any mom, anywhere, in any life situation how she is, and if she is being honest, “tired” is probably what she will say. This weariness begins at conception. There’s a good chance we were too tired for the conception process to start with (ahem) and we are definitely worn out after. Then, our bodies start working overtime, creating another human being. It blows the mind to consider that another human is living inside of you, sharing your alone space. Consuming your nutrients. Using your uterus as a sleeping bag. Kicking your ribs out of his/her way. You start losing sleep as nightly trips to the bathroom increase and comfortable positions disappear entirely. Pregnancy dreams of babes being birthed fully dressed in red polka-dotted dresses disrupt peaceful sleep. Most mommies-to-be are sleep deprived by week 25 long before that little bundle or bundles (God bless you mamas of multiples) of trouble shows up.

And then the baby is here. Never mind the hours of labor. Never mind the immediate fear and worry that takes over as you hold this little one. Never mind that your body is forever changed. Never mind that you are more exhausted than you have ever been in your life! Time to work, Mama. Nighttime feedings every 1 ½-3 hours lasting 45 min each. Nighttime diaper changes that usually involve an entire wardrobe change after the poop reaches the folds of the baby’s neck (can someone please invent a diaper that can ferociously handle newborn poo?).

So, for months, we moms are worn out. And I’m not sure you ever completely recover. Both my mom and my mom-in-law can fall asleep while sitting up and in the middle of a conversation. I used to think it was strange, but now I’ve come to realize…they have been sleep deprived for 30+ years! These poor mamas! I thought it would get better. But even my oldest still needs mommy sometimes in the middle of the night.

And I’ve heard rumors that sleep doesn’t get any better once adolescence arrives. Apparently there are all kinds of worries to keep you up at night. Such as: Who was that boy they were talking to in the school yard? I need his name and social security number for a background check. Is she going to be able to pull her grades up before the end of the semester? How will this affect her admissions to college? Gulp! He is taking his driving test tomorrow. Does he have clean jeans to wear? That friend of hers is a little sass mouth. I need to get her mother’s phone number and invite her to our women’s Bible study. I can’t believe he procrastinated until tonight to start that project. I’m not helping him next time. Tough love, Baby Boy! I have to pee again. Will I never have proper bladder control again? Why is the Mr. not awake? He slept through all the nighttime feedings too. Being dad is so easy. Did I lock the back door after the dog went out? Ugh! I forgot to put that leftover chili back in the fridge! I better do that after I pee.

Oh, mamas…we are so tired. Weary from doing so many good things. There is no rest for the weary.

Monday, for me was exhausting. It was a day of completing lessons with my 3 home schoolers, rushing to a doctors appointment, rushing to gymnastics, a toddler soaked in wet, muddy clothes after discovering a puddle in the backyard, excessive amounts of whining, making glitter chalk, cooking, washing, cooking again, bath time, 1 million conversations on topics that I just really don’t care about. It was a pretty ordinary Monday, honestly. But all day I just felt tired. I was done by 2:00. Have you ever been done? I mean, DONE. You have nothing left to give. It has all been sucked dry, and you are an empty shell. It’s a “Go on without me, I’m just going to lay down and die now” kind of done.

Oh, my weary friend. Let’s sit a minute and rest. Let’s catch our breath. Let’s take a minute before our weariness leaves us curled in the corner sobbing hysterically…again.

It is such a good work we are doing. So important. No one else can do this work but us. We are irreplaceable to our children. No teacher, as hard as they work, no caretaker, as kind and loving as they are, no one can be mommy but you and me. It is bewildering to think that we are so inadequate, and yet so valuable. I really falter in finding the words to tell you the measure of significance you have in your child’s life. All of the struggle. All of the sacrifice. All of the worry. All of the love. It is not wasted on your child. Oh sure, it seems they don’t notice, that they don’t care. They certainly don’t seem to appreciate it with their tantrums and bad attitudes, and it may be years before they realize how grateful they are for all you are doing.  

And so, in the meantime, we can quickly grow weary in our toil of planting. We may be tempted to faint into self-indulgence, before the time of harvest has begun.

I’ll be very honest. I have often sought my own rest and comfort and been angry that my children kept me from it. I have cried from weariness and demanded that I be given rest. I have had me-time, alone-time, mommy-time, whatever, and come back no less weary. It was never enough. Because it isn’t supposed to be.

Our rest and strength does not come in the form a nap or a pedicure. Though those things are fine and helpful (lawdy, am I in need of a pedicure…and I have not said no to a nap since my second trimester in 2006), however, they ultimately will not deliver the rest that our bone-tired souls need. The only rest that will meet our deep need for restoration can be found by resting in Jesus. It has taken me the better part of a decade to realize this. For years, I whined to my forbearing husband about needing a break. And he has generously given me time. But it is never enough.

I am able to come back to my children with grace and mercy only when I have spent time seeking the One who has such commodities on hand to give. It is Christ. When I seek time with Him, praying, reading and meditating on His Word, then I am filled. Restored. Renewed. Inspired. Encouraged. Excited. Ready to try again. When I rest in the person of Jesus, I come away knowing exactly who I am and what I need to do.

I can let go of those things that are wearing me out and embrace the things that are most important for this season, and also for the ultimate goals we have for our children. It is so easy to become absorbed in lots of good things, that seem to promote good habits for our kids, but are really just taking control of our schedules and depleting our energy. As it turns out, it won’t throw my child’s sense of self-worth off its kilter if she does not become an Olympic gymnast, and my children can still be healthy beings even if my pasta is not made from scratch.

Pulling back and allowing God to renew our minds can give us freedom to say no to the extras and have more capacity for necessities. More often then not, I have found myself giving my strength to lesser endeavors. As a result, I had less time to connect with my kids, less energy to give them, and irritation ruled my attitude.

What if we did the unthinkable and spent a week doing mainly the things that really mattered in the long run. What if we spent a week enjoying our family, loving them, feeding them, playing with them, learning with them. We typically call that vacation. Funny, how we only do the most important things when we are “vacationing”. Perhaps resting is one of those important things. Perhaps God, in His wisdom, made rest an essential part of the daily rhythm of our lives. Perhaps, in our culture of striving to accomplish and succeed we have overlooked the simplest and yet most important things. Perhaps the things we are working so hard to get, are already ours, given by a good Father, who knows what we need before we even ask. What if our definition of successful parenting is off? What if abiding in Christ really does brings all that we desire? What if we stopped talking about reorganizing our priorities and actually focused on the one thing that matters? What if the Kingdom of God could be found in living simpler, in a way that allows the smallness of life to come into focus?

I love what Emily P. Freeman says in her book Simply Tuesday (go to Amazon now and order it. Seriously. I can wait.) She writes,

He’s (God) always inviting us grown-up people downward with gladness, always pulling us closer to him, always welcoming us to the small places we sometimes forget to go when we are busy being the grown-ups.”

My heart longs for those small places where I can just be. Where I’m not having to perform or achieve, but just resting in the delight of my Heavenly Father. He is pleased with me even when the deadlines are looming and the beds are still unmade. What a relief. I can rest in Him. Deep breath…

My prayer for you today is that you can find a place to rest in Jesus. Maybe that is a legitimate, desperately needed nap. But maybe it is moment with your Savior. A moment to fully embrace the one thing that really matters.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap or gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying,’ What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:25-34 ESV