I knew better than to take a nap today. I’ve been up since 2 a.m. and I finally gave up tossing and turning and came to the couch. One of the Trantham hobbies is sleeping. Anytime, anywhere. Cars, airplanes, couches, floors. Morning, noon, late noon, early evening, night. The last time we got a sitter for our anniversary, we came back a half hour early to take a nap before we picked up Eden. (It’s kind of a problem.) But, we tell ourselves, it doesn’t cost any money. (Spoiler alert: super cheap date night activity. You’re welcome.)
But it does cost in a good night’s sleep for me, the older I get. When you live in 1200 square feet, you don’t sneak around well. I heard Eden wake up and fuss for a while. I went in to pick her up and she immediately laid her head on my shoulder. This is a good sign. She’ll probably go back to sleep easily. I headed for the rocking chair and began rubbing her back. That’s when it hit me.
When did I start rubbing her back instead of patting her? I couldn’t remember. When she was quite small, I would pat her, and I even got it down to a science as I went from the fast burping-pat to the slow, synchronized lullaby-pat, to the slowly-air-lifting-my-hands-off-her-back-pat, hoping she would stay asleep. Those days were well behind me, since I started putting her in her bed awake and letting her learn to put herself to sleep. But when did I stop patting and start rubbing? I honestly couldn’t remember. This made me sad.
Today at church, my friend and I were talking with a sweet grandmotherly lady, the kind who smiles constantly and sways slightly during worship and nods during the sermon and puts her graying hair up in multiple butterfly clips. She asked my friend and I how old our children are now. Almost 5 and 2. She set her purse down on the chair and leaned in.
“Do you know what I miss?” I shifted my weight to be sure I was ready for her answer. I’d heard almost all of it. Fingerprints on the windows. Cheerios on the floor. Their little coos. The way they sleep at night. Breastfeeding. Their jibber-jabber. (I have never heard anyone said they missed the carseats. I was silently hoping she would be the first, followed by the ISBN of the miracle seat they used and a coupon code.)
“I miss the chaos.”
My friend and I looked at each other with big eyes. Really? Well that’s a new one.
“I miss the kids running around and everyone talking at once and the flurry of activity.”
It was like she had been to my house and come as a messenger: embrace it. Stop trying to do it all. Stop trying to make it perfect. Stop wiping off the countertop for the tenth time today and get on the dirty floor and stack blocks. Stop obsessing over the budget and go outside and chase her. Make her laugh until she has the hiccups. Count the seconds until she sneezes when she sees the sun. Push her in the swing, with both hands… not one hand on the phone scrolling. Multi-tasking is for work, not for play. Menu planning and cleaning and budgeting can come at 8 p.m., but for now, just be.
“Smile and laugh a lot.” Because when you’re budgeting and cleaning and checking social media, it struck me… that isn’t what brings laughter. It might bring temporary security and fulfillment and entertainment, but those things don’t bring the belly laughter that can only come from interaction with the people you love. Even watching a funny youTube video is better when you have company.
And so isn’t that what Sabbath is, after all? That this planet doesn’t depend on us to keep spinning on its axis. To remember that it’s not about what we’ve done…. but what He’s done. For the next six days we can pinch our pennies and scrub our toilets… but for now, for this chunk of time right now, we can let the world move on without our performance and control. Those things can wait.
Because one day, we’ll wake up and the chaos will be gone.
“I told myself that I would gladly send the last child out. But instead, I cried and wished it all back.”
So tonight I held her a few extra minutes, rubbing her back and trying to figure out when she became such a big girl. I tried to memorize the way she would startle and begin sucking her paci, multiple times with a bit of a squeak. The way she tucked her arms under mine, close to my chest. I looked around at the pile of dirty clothes, books who hadn’t found their way back to the bookshelf, and half-full diaper boxes, and I gave thanks for the early morning wake up call.
Those things can wait.
Because some things don’t wait.