There’s this meme going around Facebook that any parent can likely identify with…
As we Moms know, there is no tiredness like mom tiredness.
(I write this after I was up 5 times last night nursing my 12-month old. Definitely ready to wean about now!)
Before I had kids, I never quite understood when parents talked about “rough nights.” So what, your child woke up? Well I’m sure after a quick drink or a kiss from Mama they fell right back asleep again. Oh boy…little did I know that there are nights where these “wakings” occur multiple times, or that there are instances when your child doesn’t want to fall asleep again. Or when your toddler is crying but they are too young to explain what is bothering them. Or every night for the first few weeks with a newborn where you could be sleeping, but instead you are constantly checking if your baby is still breathing.
This tiredness is explainable: the demands of motherhood are all-encompasing. Your body is pushed to its limits as you constantly nurse, carry, rock, lift. You never get a mental break as you are required to plan meals and clean and keep each family member’s appointments in order. Each day is a rollercoaster of emotions as your heart is stretched in ways you never knew were possible. Bursting with love in one moment, trying to suppress your temper the next, and a few minutes later wondering if you’re even doing this motherhood thing right at all. You are spiritually aware that you have the most important responsibility in the world right now, and that is no easy task.
In my 2 1/2 years of motherhood so far, one natural response to this “mom tiredness” that I often turn to is NAPPING.
I was never really a “napper”, but once I got pregnant and faced those first-trimester weeks of being so exhausted – and the baby wasn’t even born yet! – I learned how refreshing it can be to sleep for awhile in the afternoon (or the morning, or the evening….)
When you were pregnant or a new mom, I’m sure you were told more than once – “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Well-meant advice. (By the way, when Baby #2 comes along you need to figure out how to “sleep when the BABIES sleep”, which doesn’t happen very often, meaning you really should take advantage of it when it does!)
I know how important rest is for moms. Our bodies need it in order to function well; our hearts and spirits need sleep in order to recharge. Since we are constantly taking care of other’s needs all day it is important to also watch out for ourselves.
But one day a few months ago I felt God gently convict me that I had been mistakingly thinking of naps as MY RIGHT.
And as soon as anything we consider to be our “right” gets taken away from us, we get upset and often don’t respond in the best way.
- If my baby woke up from her nap before I had had a chance to lay down, I’d become frustrated and spend the next hour trying to rock her back to sleep when she was obviously not tired anymore.
- If my toddler wasn’t settling down for his afternoon nap as quickly as I wanted (since it would be my chance to sleep as well) I’d often try to rush the process instead of giving him the time he needed.
- If I awoke from a nap to the sound of one of my children crying it would sometimes set me off for the rest of the afternoon.
As a follower of Christ and someone who believes God wants to be involved in the everyday details of my life, there is no better way for me to learn to be in relationship with him than trusting HIM to be my source of strength.
And as soon as I turn to anyone or anything else to replace what only He can truly give to me, that other thing becomes an idol.
The turning point was when I chose to give up my “right” to sleeping in the afternoon. While taking naps does bring some type of refreshment, I choose to not be frustrated about the times when that physical rest just isn’t possible.
Over the last few weeks my prayer has been “Lord YOU are my Strength and Peace and Joy. You will help me thrive today, not just survive. I trust in You alone, and not in sleep (or caffeine)!”
As I have intentionally re-shifted my focus to God, He has proven His faithfulness once again. He DOES carry me through, more than a bit of sleep ever could!
Although I still nap every now and again, I have noticed some changes on the days that I don’t compared to a couple of months ago:
- I have found that having time to myself while my kids are sleeping is often more refreshing than me laying down with them. Even if it’s just half an hour of reading, drinking a cup of coffee in peace or finally checking something off my to-do list, my mind gets the break it needs (which is often more urgent than physical rest!)
- My attitude towards my kids has changed, and I am no longer a grouch when they wake up.
- I’ve become disciplined about going to bed earlier. I personally am not a night owl or very productive in the evenings, but often I would stay awake late doing random stuff (like browsing social media), and then once I finally hit the sack at 11:30pm I’d be mad at myself for not going to bed earlier. These days if I don’t nap in the afternoon and my body is physically ready for sleep around 9:30 or 10:00, I simply go to bed!
My friend, maybe you don’t necessarily crave naps, as I did. But I’m sure you could fill in the blank: “I couldn’t get through each day without______.” And dear Mama, as cheesy as it may sound, our answer to that should be Jesus. HE wants to be our all in all.
I know some days are long, but there is grace that awaits us each morning.
If you have questions about what it means to be in relationship with Him or if you want prayer, please shoot me a message! Or for those who would like to discuss this more, I’d love if you commented in the Full Hands, Happy Heart Facebook Group.