I know more about sleep than about rest.
How much a person ought to sleep, based on age and health and last growth spurt.
How to use a muslin blanket to help a baby sleep.
What shade of blackout curtains are needed for napping during full-sun hours.
How much coffee to drink when small people wake up too early.
I know all these things, because they shape the contours of my days.
I am familiar with rest in a more academic sense. I do know a few things about it. Rest is not something you earn, rest is something you need.
Rest was made for you, and you were made to rest, and I believe that.
I’m terrible at it.
I wish I could say it’s because I have these kids. (Have you met kids? They don’t turn off, is all. There is no pause button.) But rest has never been my strong suit. Procrastinating, maybe, but rest? Not so much.
Limits and boundaries, I’m good with. There’s no one thing eating up all my time, but there are always more things that I could tend to, and there continue to be only twenty-four hours in the day.
Somehow rest always gets crowded out.
I’m not recommending this, as a strategy. I recommend the rest thing. And I’m going to keep recommending it to my own self until I start taking my recommendation.
I remembered this when Sadie turned seven. Seven is such a middle age, isn’t it? Not a little one, not a tween, just a perfect kid.
(I remember that I sobbed when my oldest turned seven, because she was practically an old lady already. I guess by kid number four I have worked that out of my system. So that’s good, then.)
Sadie had been quietly in love with horses for a long time, so for her birthday, we scheduled a private riding lesson. Just Sadie, a horse, and a couple of knowledgable young women to teach her about grooming and tacking and walking and trotting.
When we stepped out of the car she said: Owen was right. He told me horses can be stinky sometimes.
And a minute later: He didn’t tell me about the flies, though.
And a bit later: Once you’re having fun, you hardly notice the smell at all!
All this was true.
Also true: for me, at the stable, five out of six kids were paused, because they were not there. The internet was paused, because it was not there either.
More things that were not there: the dishes, the laundry, the dinner prep, the shoe closet that needs tidying again, that crusty stuff that happens when the baby spits out her rice cake and I forget to wipe it up right away. All paused.
I stood outside the ring and watched Sadie bounce up and down in the saddle, and I breathed deep, and it smelled like rest. Manure notwithstanding.
Rest does not mean do nothing. Rest does not mean eat cereal and watch cartoons all day.
Rest means nourish your soul.
Outdoors, fresh air, sunshine, nothing needful at my fingertips: yes, that will do.
I didn’t earn it. I didn’t even see it coming.
It was surprise rest.
Surprise rest is good. I will take that, when it appears.
But. I do not sit around waiting for surprise breakfast, or surprise oxygen. I am not holding out for surprise clothes before I get dressed in the morning.
Some things are nice, and some things we need. I am learning.
Rest was made for you, and you were made to rest.
I think we’d better plan for it. Even if it’s just for a moment.