During our early days of marriage, Frank and I had to have quite a few discussions about Napping Expectations. Frank is a power napper – 20 minutes and he’s refreshed. He also is not good at hanging out, so once he’s awake, he’s awake. He gets fidgety and restless and is an unpleasant bedfellow. I love naps. (I always envisioned myself as a sea otter in another life – lounging, napping, grooming, eating clams…) I love days that allow for naps – it means nothing is planned but rest. Before kids, if I woke up too early on a weekend or before I felt a nap should end, I would grab my bedside book and read for a while. Resting, but not napping. (I don’t even have a bedside book at the moment. So sad!)
Bea takes after Frank: She greets the morning with an It’s a beautiful day!!! at the highest volume imaginable for early morning. We had to get her an alarm clock to keep her in her room until 6:40. Elle is more like me: She’s slow to wake up and will spend some quality time stretching and snuggling in before greeting the day.
In many ways, we approach life in the same way we nap. Frank spends his day multi-tasking and running from meeting to phone call to meeting. It’s not ideal, but he functions pretty well in that fast-paced environment. I am not a good multi-tasker. Even when I was teaching, I’d focus on a project until it was finished, or at least at a logical stopping point. I rarely worked during lunch, making sure to give myself time to rest. As a mom, I try to structure our days similarly: Morning activity, lunch at home, quiet afternoon. It doesn’t always go as planned, but I’ve noticed we work better as a family (or at least, I work better as a mom) with this structure.
In Surprised by Hope, NT Wright talks about heaven (or the new earth) being a place where we do what is most life-giving to us. We work, but we work at what we are passionate about. Before this new earth, though, is a time for rest. I love this idea of resting before restoration. That we need time to recover, refocus, and rest before we can participate in Kingdom building again.
It makes me think that we were created to intentionally rest – and beyond Sabbath rest of one day per week. I also have to remember that we all rest differently. For me, rest means no activity. But for Frank, rest often looks like a hike. Sometimes it’s easy to think, I’m burned out – I just need to stop. And, perhaps I do. But, sometimes rest is a change of scenery, a time to refresh and see new perspectives.
When I was teaching, I would be sure to attend an outside professional development conference each semester. Being off-site with new ideas refreshed my teaching. Similarly, I’ve needed that “off-site” learning as a mom. One year, I went to a conference geared toward moms of preschoolers. Another year, I went to Women in the Mix, all about finding a mix of work-life thriving. Last year, I attended Denver’s Faith and Justice Conference. This year, it was Writers on the Rock. Each experience was different but I came home refreshed, renewed, and reminded that life beyond motherhood exists. I needed that time to learn, to grow, to refresh.
I’m learning that rest is sometimes active. Even though I think of rest as napping or doing nothing, I’ve come home just as refreshed from a day of learning and actively pushing outside of my comfort zone. I couldn’t attend conferences all the time (once a year is plenty!) but I am reminded that a day of rest can look like a day of activity.
Whatever it is – from a hike to a conference to taking time to read, uninterrupted – I’m finding that without rest, I cannot play a role in restoration. So, I’m learning to stop, to listen, and to be aware of the active ways I can find rest.
How do you best renew? Do you need solitude or learning or people? Or a bit of a mix?