I stood in front of the stove with my 3 month old on my hip, stirring a pot of boiling spaghetti. My one year-old tore through the cupboards, tossing Tupperware everywhere. I was past the point of caring. It was 6pm, and all three of us were still in last night’s pajamas. The day had flattened me. With two kids under two, physical and emotional exhaustion had become my norm.
We were not the beautiful picture of domestic motherhood bliss I’d imagined; not the stuff of Instagram dreams. We were a rag-tag band of crusty misfits.
This was the scene my husband took in when he came home from work.
“Hey!” He said, slowly picking up on the emotional disaster zone he’d just entered. He kissed me and then looked around, trying to find something to recognize as a win.
“Cool! You already got the kids ready for bed!” I stared at him with a look that said, “not exactly…” He immediately got the message. If this was the Mothership, it was sinking. Mayday.
“Ok,” he said. “You need some time to yourself. So here’s what we are going to do. Every Wednesday night is your night. When I get home from work, we’ll eat dinner and then you can do whatever you want for a few hours, all by yourself. Go to Target alone, take a nap, Starbucks. Whatever. Wednesdays are your night off. Ok?”
I almost cried, I felt so seen. When you’re dating, romance looks a lot like surprise roses. But when you have two kids under two and your husband offers you a few hours all alone? I fell in love with that man all over again.
Because here’s the thing – moms of tiny people are acquainted with a unique kind of exhaustion.
Looking back, I wonder how I survived those early motherhood years. I basically cried every 20 minutes. I spun my wheels all day long, and often through the night. The days had me looking like I Love Lucy at the chocolate factory. Tasks flying at her faster than she could manage. Except instead of cute chocolate-shenanigans, my scene included ugly-crying over a conveyor belt of dirty diapers and unfolded laundry.
That season had me looking for a lifeline like never before. While I’d called myself a Christian since high school, I’d never seen the end of myself like I had in early motherhood. I never understood what it was like to feel unable, unqualified, weary, burdened. I felt stuck and overwhelmed. I needed rest so desperately. Where could I find it?
My new Wednesday night outings were a welcomed relief, but I also needed rest throughout the daily difficulties, in the bedrock of my soul. Deep in my heart I knew exactly where to turn.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
– Matthew 11:28-30, The MSG
Sure, I’d heard this passage before. But with the context of my newfound weariness, it struck me anew. Real rest? Unforced rhythms of grace? Living freely and lightly? These ideas were the antithesis of my day-to-day. I thought I’d become a Christian all those years ago so that I would have eternal security. While that was true, I had been missing out on the deep soul rest Jesus offered me in every single moment of my stressed-out life.
He was offering rest in the midst of chaos, and I wanted in.
So I sought Jesus with all of my heart. Waking up before the sun was out of the question for me then. Instead, I’d put the kids down for their naps at 1pm and open my Bible. I’d fight the urge to finish all my household tasks immediately, and instead focus on the unseen. My soul. My spirit. The God of the universe. The unrest inside needed to be addressed before the toys and dishes.
Every day that I reluctantly read my Bible before tackling my to-do list, was a day my soul rested. Jesus ministered to me deeply when I sought Him in my lack. He always met me exactly where I was, righting my perspective and giving me endurance to complete what was necessary. I started to taste “freely and lightly.”
The indescribable rest of Jesus transcends our circumstances. Sometimes He sends our husbands to give us a physical break. And sometimes He doesn’t pull us out of the chaos, but ministers to our spirits in the midst of it.
Sister, the same God who spared not His only Son for you – He wants to give you rest in the midst of your chaotic days, too. All we have to do is seek Him by opening His Word. And he promises to meet us there, every time.
Molly DeFrank is a mom and foster mom to five kids under ten. She writes about faith and motherhood—the hilarious and the hard; the fun and the maddening; the beauty and the blunders. She loves to share encouragement and laughter with women just like her. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, or her website, www.mollydefrank.com.