On Re-learning ‘Rest’

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The last year (and some change) has been a giant lesson for what not to do with my life. We got home from Delaware and I jumped into work, trying to make up for a lower work output while trying to keep a toddler contained and entertained in our sparse summer rental. A few weeks in, we found out I was pregnant with our daughter, which added nausea and exhaustion to the mix. Christopher’s fall semester was insane.

I started maternity coverage for my sister-in-law in November, a few weeks earlier than planned due to our niece’s early arrival, and then I kept going. I pushed hard and pushed through until I finally turned on the vacation responder for my email the afternoon before my due date.

And then I had a baby. This is Anna:

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(She’s now 7.5 months)

I started my maternity leave and we went back to Delaware for Christopher’s second summer session (with an 8-week-old). We had family with us for a good portion of the time and it was just so full, it went by quickly. We came home and had some more time with family before Chris jumped into the school year and I tried to go back to work.

It has been extraordinarily challenging to figure out a rhythm for this new season. It’s hard to find an hour during the day to work or just sit in silence. There hasn’t really been a place for resting in my daily life in a very long time.

And so, in July, we decided that I should go to Mexico this November with a good friend. Somehow, in His sovereignty, God knew I would need this trip at this exact moment.

I feel like I slammed straight into the trip trying to go 90 miles an hour. Having been sick since early October, my ability to function on a daily basis had dropped considerably with two rib injuries and lingering congestion. As much as it was hard not to have much work coming in, it was probably for the best because I had no energy and keeping up with the kids took nearly everything I had.

Knowing I was leaving the country on Sunday, I went to see our doctor on Thursday to make sure I didn’t need more than a week off from being needed by my family.

Lo and behold: Walking pneumonia.

I managed to get the first two doses of antibiotics into my system Thursday and Friday.

Friday night, P threw up all night. None of us (except A) slept well.

Saturday, I had energy for the first time in more than a month but the day was interrupted by P still being sick. I took my third dose of antibiotics, stayed up late doing laundry and packing, slept roughly 2-3 hours, and then got up at 3:30 to feed Anna one last time before my friend picked me up for our ride to the airport.

Needless to say, I was in rough shape by the time we arrived at our hotel that evening. Sitting on a four-hour flight aggravated my main rib injury and trying to avoid coughing uncontrollably in an airplane seat caused my back and neck to freeze up. The changes in cabin pressure squeezed my sinuses, with which I already was struggling. I couldn’t turn my head to the right, I felt like I was in a fishbowl because my hearing was so distorted, and I was desperately overdue for a pumping session.

People ask about my trip and if it was all I wanted it to be, and I can honestly say that it was because my expectations were simple. I wanted to remember what it meant to rest (and my body really needed to heal) and I wanted to enjoy and meet with God. It’s hard to be disappointed when those are your expectations.

I spent the week going to bed when I was ready to go to bed. I slept in. I took naps. I enjoyed eating food at the right time and the right temperature and at a healthy speed. I didn’t have to cut up anyone’s food and I didn’t change any diapers. I had two massages to work out the insanity that were my back and neck, as well as a pedicure and a manicure. I slowly found myself able to breathe clearly and to rotate my neck again.

I read everywhere — at the beach, in a Bali bed in the lagoon, at the pool, and (more than anywhere else, I think) in the hammock on our patio. I didn’t leave the hotel property, but I saw monkeys and iguanas and flowers and blue skies and clear water and fish of all shapes and sizes. I rarely picked up my phone. I spent a lot of time praying and wandering, enjoying the fact that none of the noise was my noise.

Because that’s the thing, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter if it’s noisy so much as whether the noise is yours to handle. The baby waking in the night? That’s my noise. The television suddenly blaring in the next room because your toddler figured out how to turn it on? That’s my noise. The timer for dinner? The washing machine finishing its cycle? My phone buzzing with a notification or a phone call? All my noise.

I came home rested and healthier (not fully healthy — I didn’t get that sick overnight) and ready to engage with my family again.

I’m not good at resting and the last year is pretty good proof of that, but I’m working to incorporate elements of self-care and more intentional times of rest into my daily life — even though it’s often very hard to do so. I want to have a slower mentality and less urgency. I need to know what it looks like to take better care of myself (because being sick for eight weeks doesn’t do my family any good). I’m reading more and watching less. I’ve added limits to my phone for the use of certain apps (like Instagram) and deleted others (essentially every game). I’m being intentional to make time for other priorities than my kiddos and work projects.

I am very much re-learning what it means to rest.

And, some days, I’m still not very good at it. It’s easy to get sucked into the constant-pressure rat race of work and family — it’s harder to say ‘no’ and make time for other things.

But making that time is so instrumental in remaining healthy in body and soul. I’m a better mom and a better wife when I don’t feel there’s more to my life than being everyone’s keeper, when I can pause long enough to remember God has crafted me to be, well, me.

Recent Reads:

  • The Fringe Hours and Stretched Too Thin by Jessica N. Turner
  • 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke (SO good)
  • A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle (Re-read)
  • Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery (Re-read)
  • The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

Currently ReadingThe Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer (Re-read), Prayer by Tim Keller, The Summer of the Great-Grandmother by Madeleine L’Engle (Re-read)

Currently Listening to: Christmas records

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