Friends, I’m starting to think I’m incapable of light and airy posts. Everytime I have one planned something comes up and I just can’t bring myself to post it because I have something else weighing on me. It’s the same reason why I hate small talk I suppose. So, sorry if you’re looking for easy breezy…you might not find that here.
A few days ago I asked on Instagram “What do you really want for Mother’s Day?” I was thinking I would gather responses and use them to create some version of a gift guide. And I may still do that in some way. But when I saw the comments coming in I just couldn’t ignore them. Over 90% of responses were some variation of “I want a break.” A nap, quiet time, nobody touching me, an uninterrupted shower…We are TIRED. We want time away. We are craving quiet. We need rest.
Why do we need a special occasion to rest?! How sad is it that so many of us can’t ask for a nap or an uninterrupted shower or an hour by ourselves on any random day? Shoot, many of us aren’t even actually asking for these things, we’re just venting about them to a stranger on Instagram. We are so convinced that being this exhausted is just part of the gig that we suck it up and soldier on. But if my DM’s are any indication of our current state of mind, we are pretty miserable.
I remember listening to a “We Can Do Hard Things” podcast episode where they talked about how the goal is to create a life we don’t need a break from. That sounds wonderful. But there’s so much working against us. 1. Our society prioritizes hustle and productivity. There’s no time for rest. 2. Moms juggle all the things and oftentime us resting results in something else not getting done (or done our way…which is a separate issue). We are convinced we can’t be both supermom and also carve out quiet and stillness. Supermom wins out most of the time. Because #expectations. 3. The guilt. Oh man. How am I supposed to ask for a break from my babies when I love them more than anything in this world? How terrible of a person am I if I just need them to stop freaking touching me?! Especially on Mother’s Day! I wouldn’t even get to celebrate Mother’s Day if it wasn’t for them, so how dare I ask to not spend every second of that day with them…Do you see the problem? Surely I’m not the only one having this internal dialogue.
So, yes please. I want a life I don’t need to take a break from. But how?! How do I go from desperately needing a break here at Point A all the way to Point B where rest is a norm. And not only a norm but it is necessary and expected and celebrated.
I don’t have a good answer. I for sure don’t have an easy answer. To me the journey from Point A to Point B feels like a recurring nightmare I have where I’m forced to jump from a helicopter and land in a swamp in the Everglades and have to trek through it to safety except the swamp is forever long and riddled with alligators. (Crocodiles? Doesn’t matter. They’re everywhere and they’re hungry.) Never have I ever made it out of the swamp in my dream. I wish I could just stay on the helicopter forever. That feels safer right now. But I know that’s not actually true.
The current way I’m living (and I use that term “living” very loosely) works for the people around me. I’m busting my butt to make sure their needs are all met. But in the process I’m ignoring most of my own. To make a change though I have to jump out of the helicopter. There are no guarantees that a new way will be better. I can’t promise nobody around me will feel negatively impacted. I don’t know if I’ll settle into new routines right away or not. So I just stay put clinging to what feels like safety.
When I’m thinking clearly though and connecting with myself, what I know is that when I am rested and cared for I am an all around better human. I am more attentive. I am more patient. I am happier. I am more curious. I am more creative. I enjoy my people more and they enjoy me. Yes, some tasks may not get done when mom takes a break, but you know what? The world keeps spinning. Every single time. The rugs may not have gotten vacuumed but literally nobody cared and it was all ok.
Trudging through the swamp is hard. The internal and external expectations are very real and they will eat us alive if we let them. The guilt is enough to keep us stuck in the mud. The fear of inconveniencing someone we love, the worry about whether we’re deserving, the doubt of whether we’re good enough…they’re all gators just waiting to snatch us up. But the only way out is through. And all we can do is trust that what is waiting on the other side is more honest and true and beautiful. On the other side we get to claim the life we couldn’t even imagine before. A life that we don’t need a break from. But first, we have to ask for what we need. We have to rest. And we have to do it regularly. We can’t take a nap one day a year and call it good. You are a human being who deserves rest and care and goodness. On Mother’s Day and also every other day of the year. Take care of yourself. (And when you start to feel guilty about it, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine telling your sweet babies to suck it up and push through their exhaustion. You would never. So stop doing it to yourself.)
Rest, mama. You deserve it. You don’t have to earn it, but even if you did you already have.
Be brave. Be you. Be human.
With so much love and gratitude,
*Originally published May 2022 and republished August 2023