31 Jan 2013

Got your back

When Jackson was three and Micah just a few months old I remember feeling like I’d forgotten what sleep was like. I existed in a semi-zombie state and the world seemed to blur by and I was not an active participant in it. We were in Michigan, it was January and snow had shut us away from the outside world. A cocoon of snug sleeplessness I would have given anything for a nap, a chance to curl up in a warm pocket of sunshine that poured in the kitchen window and just close my eyes for an hour.

There was an afternoon when a friend came over to visit and hold the baby and check on me. She shared my South African accent and having her in my house was like feeling at home. When she arrived she discovered that large parts of the house were buried under laundry – both dirty and clean. I’d sort of waved a white flag in the direction of the laundry room and surrendered myself to washing it when it was absolutely necessary but then never getting beyond moving it from a pile in the laundry room to piles in other parts of the house.

She dove right in.

Washing and drying and folding load after load. At first it was wonderful. A miracle even. But then two month old Micah fell asleep. He fell asleep at the same time Jackson went down for his nap. Suddenly laundry seemed irrelevant and the possibility of sleep was the true miracle. But my friend, she was determined to be done with that wash. I remember how blurry the room looked. How I stood next to the side of the big king size bed covered in neatly stacked piles of baby clothes and all I wanted to do was lie down in the middle of that warm heap and close my eyes.

Precious Rietjie was loving me as she pressed on with the words, “You’ll feel so much better if we can get it all done while they’re both sleeping.”

But the truth is, I would have felt even better if I could have been sleeping while they were sleeping.

I wanted so desperately for her to tell me to just go lie down and that she’d finish it herself. I didn’t care if it never got folded. I didn’t care if we all lived in wrinkled, smelly pajamas for the next month. I would have traded a year of clean, folded laundry for one afternoon of solid sleep.

Looking back I wish I’d hugged her, told her she was welcome to keep at it or to come back another time, but that I was going to be lying down in the guest room.

Motherhood comes in so many stages. And what feels like help at one time can feel like exhaustion in another. I get that. I really do. So let me just say that if you ever arrive over here with tired, bleary eyes and a heart that just needs a hug and a nap and instead you find a get-up-and-go, let’s-fold-all-the-laundry-and-get-all-dressed-up post, feel free to take a pass. To know that if all you really want to do is crash and you couldn’t care less what you’re wearing at the time, I’ve got your back sister.

I’ve got your back.

And there are still days I’m tempted to lie down in the laundry rather than fold it.



{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    I wrote this echo yesterday http://www.handmedowngrace.com/2013/01/why-motherhood-is-so-hard.html because I so get your words. Sometimes we don’t need a fix…we just need a friend…and a nap…and a shot of whiskey…I mean chocolate.

  2. 2

    Someone told me that it was ok to let the housework go while the kids were little. They’re five and seven and I haven’t got a grip yet… a bit of dust is good for the immune system, that’s what I say.
    Thankyou for this wonderful post. I know Exactly What You Mean.
    We had storms all night last night and although my daughters are not babies they hate the wind and the rain. Today I remember that newborn twilight feeling.
    Go, Lisa-Jo. Love to read what you write.

  3. 3

    Love this. My daughter is a new Mom of a 3 month old and she’s working like three positions on her job and serving in church and other activities … she’s a trooper but she is in need of sleep and yes, some things in the house go undone but the level of love in that house is at an incredible, commendable high.

  4. 4

    What an awesome reminder that sometimes we just need to survive today and clean up the mess later. Taking care of yourself so you can care for your family is so vital. It is amazing to look back and see how we have grown as people and moms and know that what was oh so vital at one time in the big picture is not all that big of a deal.
    May we all seek to be the friend, that not only helps us clean, fold and put away the laundry; but allows us to go take a nap while they take of it all.
    Blessing to you for your words of encouragement for us moms in the thick of it all.

  5. 5

    ohh i am so there. 22-month-old, 3-month-old, freezing winter in isolated northern ontario and longing for a nap.
    thanks for the hug. i needed it :).

  6. 6

    Sweet Lisa Jo, you have a gift for making me, and all of us tired moms, feel normal. Thank you. Some days we need to push through and clean and get dressed, and some days we need to just take a nap. I tend to forget to do those little things that bring me life, but it’s so important! Love you girl. Hope you can curl up in the sunshine and take a nap sometime soon. :)

  7. 7

    Thank you, dear sister. What a beautiful reminder that life is seasonal, the laundry room is not a factor in determining my worth as a mother, and I will sleep again. I love the pictures as well. Thank you for sharing your life with us tired mamas!

  8. 8

    I so remember those days!!! And I remember telling myself “when they get older this gets better.” And then… well they got older and it didn’t get better – it just got bigger!!! And every time I read your words friend this weary mama feels hugged even if its a “go get ’em girl” post. I always feel hugged and loved… and knowing that you’ve got my back… that you’ll listen to a style challenged, soul weary and sometimes desparate heart right here in this space? Well, its comforting – it reminds me that I’m not alone and that I’ve got soul sisters right around this big ‘ole world ready to lift me up when I’m too tired to do anything but lay on my laundry pile and weep! And friend? I got your back too!!! Lifting you up and whispering your name in God’s ear this very moment.

  9. 9

    You are a God-send… a “Barnabus” for young moms in the trenches.
    Thank you for all you give.
    The result will be eternal.

  10. 10

    Gosh. Indeed. I guess we all know this feeling. They are a little bit older now, the first years are over, my littlest one started preschool last week. And many people say: Now you have so much time on your hands, what are you going to do?”

    And all I can think is: “Catch up on some rest, try to get myself together again and then we’ll see from there”


    Love this post!

  11. 11

    AMEN! Sister I’m telling ya, I am always up for sleep.
    I do think that the best gift I have been given, even though my littles aren’t so little anymore is when I do to my Mama’s house and she says, just lay down, rest. I curl up on that amazing little couch and rest and sleep. Or when I was gone people who loved me would come to my house and clean and do laundry and when I got home I could rest. I really am blessed and I get to pass it on.

  12. 12

    So true, Lisa Jo. :) As a new mama AGAIN at the ripe age of 38, I’ve learned that there are few things as important as taking care of yourself and your baby. Everything else can wait. Fortunately, I have 4 older children, ages 7, 10, 13 and 19 and a wonderful husband who are absolutely delighting in the care of their new baby sister and helping mama out wherever they can. If I had known that a 2nd motherhood would be this great, I would have done it earlier. Maybe. ;-) (By the way, I have never felt more rested as I do now!)

  13. 13

    This is just love, Lisa-Jo–the tenderness of your words making me cry. (And I am not even in that stage any more . . but oh, we remember . . .I pray I never forget so that I can be what another weary mom needs, too.)

  14. 14
    Amelie Scheller says:

    Sleep, Sleep – the laundry will keep. Days are coming where little ones aren’t so little and sleep will come both in quantity and consistency. When we are rested – we can see with clear eyes that the mountains of laundry aren’t so steep to climb and that all will be well. Snuggle in and have a blessed nap. If I could, I’d come up north and tuck you in!

  15. 15

    Thank you so much for this post. So many times I realize after the fact that I should have thanked such and such for coming and then told them they could come again another time. Instead I was polite and made them tea! Thank you for sharing this. I don’t feel so alone now. I will always try to offer the gift of sleep to new moms I know! It’s such a previous gift.

  16. 16
    Cindy Penrod says:

    Miss Lisa Jo… you are a treasure. And I can’t think of ANYONE I can think of that I’d rather ‘have my back’. I am an older woman, a wife, a mother of adult children, a grandmother, a nurse, and a pastor’s wife. I truly appreciate your ability to be ‘real’ and still be a God-filled woman. You inspire me, and I know you inspire others. And by the way…

  17. 17

    That’s me now: a 3 year old and 2 week old, just surviving each day as they all blend together. Thanks for remembering :)

  18. 18

    What a timely post as I prepare to have our first baby. I will remember this on those days when I am tempted to get things done and yet all I really want to do is sleep (and maybe even gently kicking visitors out while I do! hehe)

  19. 19

    Dude…I STILL wanna fall asleep in the laundry, and my baby is TEN!

  20. 20

    These words are precious. Every stage has these moments. And laying down in a pile of nice clean laundry isn’t so bad. Not that I would know from experience. Ahem.

  21. 21

    Don’t you love it when He sends His angels winging their way into our lives … just when we need them most?


  22. 22

    I have to say I both agree with you and disagree with many of the comments that follow. There is a time to sleep and not fold the laundry, as you say, but I think it is a mistake to just let the housework go while the kids are little. As in PERIOD. As I see advocated often.

    Why? Because if you just let it go and let it go and let it go:
    1. The home is a dumping ground instead of a living space.
    2. Home as dumping ground becomes normal to the children growing up there.
    3. Life together is harder instead of easier.

    Keeping things reasonably clean and tidy is so much easier in the long run and FAR more pleasant. I’m not talking sterile or ignore the baby in favor of the vacuum, you understand. I hope I do not offend, either, but I stand by my experience and also my observations of many households.

  23. 23

    During the first month as a new mom, yes I was like a zombie. On my baby’s second month, my child and I moved to my mom’s house just so I could get some rest. Thankfully it got better when my child sleeps longer hours at night.

    Once again, thank you for your beautiful words, for articulating our experiences as mothers.

  24. 24

    How did I not know you were South African?! I have a large branch of my family there and adore their accents. Helps me not mix you all up with Australians! :) One of my biggest lessons as a new mom (16 months now) has been to let go of expectations and perfection. My child is well and happy; my husband and I are, too. We eat healthy food and no one has suffered from the dust or gotten injured tripping over the piles of shoes by the door. Conversely, we HAVE (both working parents) spent countless hours reading books, chasing our daughter around the house, and playing peekaboo with her precious face. So, priorities.

  25. 25

    Yes!! If you really want to help a sleep deprived, over tired mom don’t just bring her a meal, give her a nap. I have a four 1/2, two 1/2, and 17 month old. I feel like I have lived the last four years of my life in that state and am just emerging from the fog of having a little baby. I have been there many times when people come to help or visit and all I can think about is the nap that has just been missed. With this last baby I have grown up enough to tell them what I really need is sleep, but it is still so hard for me to do especially when the visit with a friend is also therapeutic.

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