It is ironic that as I write this, my daughter is crawling on me and my son is driving a car on my foot.
There are many pictures I could post from the past two weeks that have depicted “rest”. I have been able to “rest” an extraordinary amount. My little sister who lives on the east coast, came to visit us in California. I had not seen her since September of last year. She had plans to fly out in March, but then, you know, a global pandemic happened. March turned to May; surely this would be over by May, we all naively thought. May turned to June. The changing news and other family members’ varying opinions made it difficult to settle on a date. Finally, she booked a flight for the end of July. Ten months, the longest I’ve gone without seeing my sister.
It had been 132 days since the start of quarantine when she arrived. 132 days of unrest. 132 days of roller coaster emotions, ‘doom and gloom’ news, political/social justice protests, and presumptive fear. 2020 has been anything but restful.
When I stop to think about the quality of my life, the definition of rest for me goes deeper than just “taking a day off from work” or “sleeping in”. Rest to me is being surrounded by people who are life giving, who fill my cup. As opposed to people (or things) that consume my time and cause me stress and unrest.
There was a funny meme circulating how the absence of community during quarantine caused people to “miss those they didn’t even like”. I have always opted for fewer, more meaningful friendships as opposed to casting a wider net. For me, these past 132 days have further solidified and deepened friendships with those that I knew were my “number ones” pre-Pandemic.
While my sister was visiting, we took a trip to Lake Tahoe, one of our favorite places. We packed our SUV tight; four adults, two kids, and a storage turtle-full on top. My sister and her girlfriend joining us was every mother’s dream. It felt like having two full time nannies with us, who never went off the clock. Part of me is ashamed to admit that they did more for my kids on that trip than I did. My sister sat between my three year old and one year old the whole ride there and back – eight hours total. Due to the bedroom structure, I put my one year old’s pack n play in my sister’s room and she woke up with her every morning at 6:00 am. She cooked for us, changed diapers, wiped my toddler’s butt, applied sunscreen, packed beach bags and lunches, meal-prepped, took my daughter for a hike when she couldn’t nap, took my son on his first kayak ride, and babysat so my husband and I could go to dinner.
What did I do?
I laid on a beach towel and read a book. In the middle of the day, 210 miles from home, surrounded by strangers, socially distanced of course (#2020). Rest, in that immediate moment, was an hour’s worth of reading by the lake. However, in the broader sense, rest was the accumulated time spent with someone who added to my quality of life.
As moms, we are constantly in “survival mode”; then you add a global pandemic, and we are suddenly actually trying to survive in an alternate universe with no childcare, no school, no playgrounds and no play dates. As Leeana Tankersley wrote in Always We Begin Again:
“At some point, we need to exit survival mode – even if it’s for an hour or two a week- and learn how to practice the kind of rest that brings us back to the moment instead of taking us out to sea.”
My daily rest will not look like me reading a book solo on a beach. But, it can look like me writing this blog post at nap time, or listening to a podcast (Coffee + Crumbs) while preparing dinner. Taking little breaks in the day, asking myself what my body needs, or what fulfills my soul.
I’m so grateful for the time my sister spent with us and the many ‘breaks’ I had with her around. The day after she left, I was reminded how lonely motherhood is. How we can feel like we’re drifting out to sea.
We need rest and we need each other, to bring us back to the shore.