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.