I opened my eyes and fought my way up toward the surface of consciousness after a deep, blissful sleep. The first thing I saw was 10-year-old Jack’s face, and I instantly recognized his expression of mildly frustrated disappointment.
I recognized it because, when I was his age, I felt and probably looked exactly the same way when my parents spent part of a weekend afternoon doing what I’d just done – sleep. I remember stomping around our house hoping the louder-than-usual footsteps would get my parents up from their comfortable positions on the sofa or in the recliner. Weren’t they bored by all this time doing nothing? Didn’t they know there were about a million more interesting things to do besides fall asleep with the Sunday newspaper folded across your chest?
I couldn’t understand how they could be so tired. I never felt tired. I was 10 years old and energy was as plentiful as air. Why were they so sleepy?
Thirty years later, I now know the answer to that question. And I understand exactly why sitting still for more than five minutes on anything remotely comfortable makes a parent’s eyes want to close. I even use the same line my mother used on me when one of my kids stands over me and asks a ridiculous question like this: “Mom! Mom! Are you sleeping?”
“Nope. Just resting my eyes. Now go play.”
When I was a kid, I thought my parents had the most tired eyes in the whole world. Maybe I inherited their eye fatigue because now that I’m a parent, my eyes often need rest on a Sunday afternoon, too.
Of course, I had pretty good excuses for last weekend’s slumber. It was probably because we got up super early and went to the Easter sunrise service at church. Or maybe it was the Easter egg hunting or the big lunch we had afterward. There’s also a chance I was suffering from a sugar crash because I may or may not have helped my son eat the ears off a chocolate bunny. (You could ask the bunny about it, but I doubt he’d hear you.)
When I settled down on the sofa during that lazy afternoon, I knew there were at least 50 other things that needed doing. On any given day, I’m at least two loads of laundry behind and, at the rate I’m going, I might not get around to spring cleaning until fall.
As much as I crave that feeling we get when we’re super productive, I knew what I needed was nothing more than some time to do nothing. Even Jesus – the most productive person who ever lived – knew when it was time to rest. Sometimes he’d get in a boat and cross a lake just to get a little time away from the throngs of followers so desperate for more time, attention and miracles.
So to my sweet boy Jack, believe me when I tell you I really do understand how frustrating it is when your parents are “resting their eyes” on the sofa during what you hoped would be an exciting afternoon. I get it. I know it’s boring. But I also know that one day you, too, might be blessed with kids of your own and, if you are, you’ll suddenly understand exactly why those “parental pauses” are so necessary.
When it happens to you, you can drop off your little bundles of energy at my house and then go home and rest your eyes, too. I won’t judge. Because everybody should experience the miracle of a soul-renewing nap.
Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.