Thursday, March 24, 2011

Longing for Rest

Perhaps the most important lesson motherhood has taught me has been the need for rest.  From the earliest moments of pregnancy, my body began to demand rest (often in the form of passing out on the couch at 6pm and sleeping through until morning).  The most frequent advice I got as a mommy-to-be was to "sleep when the baby sleeps," and I certainly did, at every available moment, most often with my sweet little girl in my arms.  I still enjoy the (now rare) times when we can grab a nap together (whenever she can take time off from her princess duties, that is).

Two nights ago, as I snuggled our baby son during our pre-bedtime nursing session, my husband asked if I ever got tired of the demands of breastfeeding.  My honest answer was yes, sometimes it is wearying, but it is infinitely more rewarding.  (Stick with me; this is not a sermon on breastfeeding!)  As I thought about it, I told him that one of the reasons I appreciate the process of exclusive breastfeeding is that it requires me to stop everything several times per day.  Sometimes I am annoyed by having to stop in the middle of a task, and unfortunately, sometimes it takes me an embarrassingly long time to get back to finishing that task, but I am choosing to appreciate those moments.

Babies grow so quickly.  If you don't have children, you can't even imagine how blindingly fast those precious moments go.  And with this one, our second, I also have a three-year-old to consider, to pay attention to, and to parent.  It's work, believe me!  And although the constant demands of nursing a baby often interfere with my planned activities, I am learning to appreciate them because they make me stop, and for just a few moments, focus on my little boy, who won't be little for long.

 And just as my body often longs for rest, so does my spirit.  A full night's sleep is hard to come by with small children in the house, never mind a quiet moment for focused reflection and prayer!  And so last Saturday, Greg and I asked a friend to babysit for a few hours so we could get out of the house for a while to talk.  Our major topic was Sabbath observance, something that we have discussed before but never really practiced.  We set out some ideas of what such a practice would look like for our family, which things we would include and exclude, and some benefits we hoped to get out of it.  Our first Sabbath day will be two weeks from Saturday; we will have just returned from a week-long trip to visit family, so we will definitely need the rest.

Some of our parameters so far:
No electronics (tv/computer) (to encourage fully engaging the world around us)
No commerce (to resist the urge toward constant acquisition and consumption)
No housecleaning (to rest from our work and focus on enjoyment)
Family-centered activity (to celebrate our God-given relationships)
Emphasize creativity (to celebrate our Creator through art, gardening, knitting, crafting, building, etc.)
Simple meals free of whole foods (to respect our bodies and fill them with healthy ingredients)

I am excited to try this practice, and I hope it will become a valued part of our family life.

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