The rain is pattering on my windows. My tea is hot. My sweet healthy baby is asleep in her cozy bed. My two lovely children are next door, playing with friends. Our friends. Who just moved in next door. A kind, lovely, beautiful family, with two kids, who share our values and our sense of humour. Right next door. The kids running between houses, biking up and down the street. I want to hold this moment tight. To bask in the beauty and the miracle of it all.
I birthed three healthy babies. How is that possible? We moved to a small, beautiful town, on a big, beautiful Island, in a gorgeous, temperate province of a good, safe country. There is no war. We are not hungry. Our fridge is full. How is this possible? Our hearts are bursting. Forty years ago, God watched two homes being built, and knew that two families who loved each other, would get to do life together. I wouldn’t have dreamed it. Anxious kid with OCD, living with a single, broken, mom, who loved her, but also hurt her. A dad who loved her too, but didn’t know how. Struggling with his own pain and addiction he was here and gone, then back again as though it was all just fine. She grew up believing she was incapable of doing close, healthy relationships. She removed her dad from her life, and spent hours upon hours yelling, screaming, fighting with her mom. She’d never get married. If she did, it wouldn’t last. Maybe she could be a missionary overseas.
Now, here I am. Weeks away from my ten-year anniversary and he’s still my best friend. Even more so. We have walked through four hard pregnancies, two bouts of post-partum depression, the loss of a baby in-utero. We’ve learned to be more open and more intimate than I thought possible. I’ve learned that he loves me even when I’m depressed and angry and scared and completely unattractive and unproductive and unhelpful. I’ve learned that sometimes love means keeping your mouth shut. And sometimes opening it (hehe). I’ve learned that I can do healthy relationships. Not because he’s perfect and loves me sacrificially, having married a woman incapable of relationships. But because we are both here and broken and we use our powerful words carefully and we apologize when we don’t. And because somehow, God let us meet each other and let us date each other and let us marry each other. I don’t think I was smart or wise enough at 23 to know just how incredible he was. God did.
And now, after a decade of struggling through pregnancies and toddlerhood and him working two jobs while doing school, and me trying to work through pain and bitterness and forgiveness and depression and anxiety while parenting and homeschooling and cooking and cleaning and dealing with frustrating landlords and tiny basement suites, we are here. We live on a quiet street, in a big, beautiful house that’s OURS, in a small town that’s lovely, with air that smells like forest one minute, and ocean the next.
My brain and my heart are tired. My body is exhausted. I realize I need to rest. To stop striving. To breathe. Here we are. This life is so good. But it’s time to stop and rest here. Stop pressing on to the next thing and the next thing and let’s renovate and we should start a Bible study and let’s build a deck and I should be more disciplined and fit and I need to meal plan and I need to start doing A, B, and C, and I need to stop doing X, Y, and Z and there’s so much to improve because I am a mess.
So, my question, is this: How do I rest? How do I find time to rest when I squander my time on Facebook and Pinterest and Whatsapp under the guise of being productive? I just have to send this e-mail. I should order some more dish soap and vitamins and some gluten-free flour. I should see if I can find some more socks or soothers online to save a trip to the big city. Oh, I should click on this news story here. Oh, an article about organizing/eating right/being more disciplined. I should read that. That’s a neat sofa, I wonder where that’s from. I should click. Oh, Pinterest. I’m bated and hooked. And two hours go by. How dare I sit down and read a book after wasting my time doing that? How DARE I rest? I should have been vacuuming or cleaning up from today, or planning a nice school lesson for tomorrow. So up I get off the sofa at 10:30 pm and try to salvage my evening after squandering it. And then I’m up late. My mind is racing. I should have been in bed two hours ago. Now I’m going to be tired tomorrow. I should be going to bed early. I should be waking up before my kids. I should be spending time exercising, praying, reading the Bible. I should be making a nice breakfast. And coffee for Cam. And his lunch. I don’t make his lunch. I need to get to bed. So I go to bed before finishing the chores I wanted to finish, with the plan of waking up and doing them before he leaves for work.
Morning comes too soon, and I force myself awake at the last possible moment. Then I scramble and rush trying to catch up. The trouble is, I spend the whole day running, running, trying to catch up, trying to salvage the day, trying to get ahead, trying to make up for all that I lack. By the time the kids are in bed, I’m exhausted. I just have to send this e-mail. I should order that dish soap and those vitamins. Did I end up getting socks yesterday? And guess what I do at 10:30 pm.
How do I stop the cycle? How do I give myself permission to rest when I have so much to do and I am not doing it?
And what is rest supposed to look like?