I didn’t always enjoy being a mom. I didn’t have my first child and feel this magical transformation take place over my heart. I didn’t tell myself, “Now my life is complete.” No. I felt like all of my freedom and all of my life was being trapped in a diaper box. I knew I loved that little baby with all of my being, but I didn’t know how to lay my wants down, and honestly I really didn’t think it was all that necessary past a certain point. Even after having my second child, I still felt trapped in a way I couldn’t explain. There was a part of me that was used to it, but I was certainly not loving the call of being a mom. What I did love though, was naptime.
Ah, naptime. I lived for it. I would wake up and think of the most effective way to tire out my kids so they would take a good nap. I would go to the park, go to indoor play places, go anywhere but when that clock struck 11:36 it was a mad rush to pack up and get in the car before my nap window collapsed and shattered on me. I would have my bag of tricks next to me in attempt to keep those little ones awake until we got home. I would sing songs awkwardly loud, throw cheerios by the handful, and give them things to play with that they would never be allowed to have (nothing really dangerous I assure you, but just dangerous enough to keep their attention). I had a mission, and it was naptime.
But one day it all shattered. I don’t know if I stayed too late or didn’t bring my magic bag, but I looked at the backseat and they were both asleep. I knew they would wake up when we got home. And I started crying. I needed naptime. I needed my quiet space. I needed to clean without a mess being made on the other side of me. I needed rest. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). When this verse came to my mind, I was angry. God, why give me this now when I know I will have no rest until bedtime! Why aren’t you giving me rest now? His answer transformed my life as a mother. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30).
Rest for my soul? Yes. Rest for my soul. I was crying because there was no rest in my soul. I was living for me, myself and I. Naptime wasn’t about the necessary health of my children, it was about me getting “me time” so I could get the things done that I wanted to get done, in the way that I wanted to get them done. I was so caught up in tiring out my kids for myself that when it didn’t work out according to my plan, I felt like I was drowning. Of course the kids didn’t know. They had fun and enjoyed life, but I was missing out on the life I was to have. There was a life to be lived with these little people, not a life to be drowned by the routine of tiring them out. What I really needed was my life to be filled with the routine of joy and rest in the Lord. The routine of giving up my flesh.
It wasn’t an instant transformation and I still get frustrated when my quiet is hijacked until bedtime. But I have made the choice to trade my heavy “me, me, me” yoke, for His. His yoke is rest and joy. His yoke is easy and light. God has given me five children who have taught me how to live. He has given me the rest to lay down my wants so that I may be free to live abundantly. The more of me I give to Him, the more alive I become. We all have women in our lives who have walked through this already. Women who tell us, “Enjoy every moment because it goes by so fast.” I used to roll my eyes at them and think that they just forget what it was like. They forget the daily frustrations of it all. But now I see. I see that they, too, had seasons of living for naptime. I see that time went faster than they thought it would. I see how the time will flash before my own eyes, so I will tell young moms now, instead of later to enjoy every moment. I look back and thank God that His strength has helped me live for life and not for naptime. I now see, that my life is complete.