When the advice "Sleep when your baby sleeps," was passed on to me as a new mama, I could not imagine that same wisdom would still apply when my daughter was seven. Those days were overflowing with physical exhaustion. Middle of the night feedings; early mornings getting two people ready for the day; the awkward carrying and lifting of a car seat into the ill-fitting back seat. There were never enough naps for me to catch up on the sleep I lost.
My baby buckles her own seat belt now. My body isn't taxed the same way--except perhaps on the three-mile hilly bicycle rides I take with this baby-turned-almost-second-grader. My brain is what needs the breaks these days. I'm getting a taste of what my chatter-box tendencies were like for my parents. Ugh. Incessant questions, directions on what we're going to pretend and what part Mom is to play. Tonight I asked that we all not speak for five minutes. I just couldn't take any more input and remain kind and patient.
My energizer bunny has conked out on the "couch bed" in my room. I love watching her sleep now as much as I did when she was an infant. There is a peace in her gentle audible exhalations. There is peace in the quiet. There is peace in uninterrupted moments. It's like a treat found at the bottom of a cereal box when I am awake after my daughter has fallen asleep.
There is a strong temptation to jam in a ton of house work now that I have this free time. There is never an end to the work I could be, dare I say, should be accomplishing. But tonight, I'm updating the adage to better fit the stage I'm in. "Keep your activity level low and restful when your grade schooler collapses at the end of the day, ahead of when you expected." The dishes can wait. So can the laundry. The house work looms large when I'm running on empty.
The same chores are a moving meditation when my tank is full. I'm filling up on writing, listening to music and reading a great book. These activities ease the tension between working and resting. How do you fill your tank?
Rest easy, mamas. Sleep tight, too.