Good sleep is something I don't expect to understand or experience for awhile.
I accepted this January 7, 2016 when I took my last extremely long and hot, uninterrupted shower around 2 am as we prepared to go meet our son, who was a mere day old.
Our toddlers don't sleep all night in their cribs.
Here is our nightly routine:
- they each go down into their beds around 6:45-7:30 pm depending on the day (bedtime takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours)
- one or both will wake up around 9:30 pm...and 10 pm...and then 11:15 pm...
- by midnight they're both in our bed wriggling around trying to take over our queen
- Ira usually wakes up crying for "wa wa" and spills it all over the bed
- they wake up ready to party and slap me in the face around 5 am
If I'm lucky, they wait until 6 am to begin the jumping on my belly and slapping my face and yelling "Eat! Eat! Eat!"
But what about their naps, maybe you're redeemed then! No, nap time downright stinks.
Ira naps 30-45 minutes for me on any given day. Have a babysitter over? He'll nap for over an hour. I know.
Sage—if I can get him down to nap—will sleep anywhere from 1-3 hours. But the trick is getting him down and into his crib without Ira keeping him up and running.
The only guarantee for a solid nap is a car drive, but mama can't stop the car or else Ira will wake up soon after.
Even if they do nap, you better bet I can't rest or watch a show or read something fun—most likely like the rest of you—because of the work load weighing down on my shoulders. #WAHM.
I just tell myself it's because I'm so cool, they want to hang out with me.
And yes. We do essential oils daily, we eat meals regularly, we play hard, we have a white noise machine, I sing, I rub their feet and legs and backs and...I can go on and on of all the things we have done and continue to do.
The struggle is real around here and I battle blaming myself for not being a more structured, routine-oriented mom.
It's tempting to look at other moms who have an amazing routine, who have had their babies sleeping through the night since they were 3 months old and on a strict eating/sleeping schedule.
But I can't do that to myself—blame and battle and belittle—so I remind myself we are all different with different strengths and different personalities and different lives. Right? Those mamas who have it down are not perfect at something...right?
All that to say, I'm tired, much like the rest of you.
It would be fairly easy to slip into a constant state of crabbiness, continually irritated due to extreme fatigue. And some days I am that—some days I wake up annoyed that it's 5 am, that I've been slapped in the face, that I haven't made my coffee yet and the toddlers are screaming at me for hours. I'm annoyed that I'm late to deadlines, I have impending photos needing edited, I have podcasts to record and meetings to attend and budgets to keep to and bills to pay.
But one of the choices I make every day—not all day every day, often I fail to do this—is to give thanks.
The act of genuinely giving thanks has been immensely powerful for me. Couple it with adjusting my expectations for any given day or experience or even just life, and we have an entire mindset and heart shift.
I'm not saying I ignore the hard or brush over pain or pretend I'm something I'm not. I'm not saying I think everyone should walk around ingenuinely happy-go-lucky, faking their day away. I am all about offering our pains the grace of space.
What I am saying is that when I'm able to see past my exhaustion and slow down my thoughts and worries and to-do lists, I find reason to truly give thanks — and in that, I uncover a peace and a joy otherwise unnoticed. This peace and joy give me a form of energy and the ability to not walk around grumpy and easily irritated.
Don't get the wrong impression: my life is still a generally-unorganzied mess, I still snap and yell more than I want to, I'm more impatient than I care to be.
But I'm confident that I would be far grumpier, far more overwhelmed, and far more impatient if I didn't find real and true reason to give thanks.
Giving thanks looks like slowing down to be in the moment.
It's sitting on the bathroom floor watching Ira play in the tub, so intrigued by water and gravity.
It's laying on the living room rug, letting Sage crawl onto my back like I'm some sort of jungle gym. Hearing his belly laugh as he attempts to balance on the small of my back.
It's greeting my husband when he walks through the door, instead of continuing in whatever I'm doing: cooking, cleaning, computering.
It's allowing them to be free-range babies at the park instead of strapping them into the stroller the whole time, because life is easier that way but it's also less fun. They run around, they smile so big, their curiosity peaks and I am reminded what a joy it is to have a front row seat to their life.
For me, giving thanks often means seeing past my tired. It often means slowing down to enjoy the moment I've been given, as imperfect as it is.
It means relishing in the spicey and sweetness of my toddler's toddlerhood, their curiosity and learning and development. It's celebrating small moments of glee and joy and blessing, moments undeserved.
I'm never exactly happy about the sleeplessness and the exhaustion, but I recognize on a deep level the immense privilege it is to have these boys call me "mama."
I realize the joy it is that they will grow knowing I'm their safe space, I'm their biggest fan, I'm the one who hopefully teaches them the greatest Truth of all: Jesus and His grace.
The other morning I was making pancakes. My Bible sat on the counter and I read over and over again, Colossians chapter one. There is so much in there I just wanted it to sink into me. One verse that struck me was verse 11 into 12.
"We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. ..."
What I have found is that when I give thanks, I am filled with joy. A joy that is steady and true, ever present—it's not always bubbly and jumping around, giddy and excited. Often it is a deeply-seeded simmer in my soul, ever-present.
I have found that when I give thanks for things both big and small—when I stop dwelling on concerns and worries and to-do's and all the ways I'm behind and not as cool or good at life as whoever—I am strengthened with His glorious power. I tap into an endurance and patience I absolutely need to make it through the day, the moment, the issue, the sleeplessness.
That is my prayer for you. That you would discover the most freeing joy through the act of giving thanks and noting the privilege it is to be you and live this totally undeserved life.
The boys's shirts are from Truth & Gold which is a family-of-color owned business. They love Jesus and work towards affirming the next generation in who they are, celebrating the color of their skin and seeking justice for all. Go to their website!