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Coffee For Your Heart, Indefatigable

 Those bags under my eyes.  I earned them.  I can say it.  They may slightly start to resemble my dad's, but they definitely didn’t get there by chance.  More like the furrow of brow in late night squint mode that never got to go to bed and stay asleep for more than six hours total in the past 7 years. 
I’ve never been someone who lingered long wedged in the comforter and sheets.  I wish I was.  I used to hear teenagers talk about what it was like to sleep til noon on Saturdays and I nodded wistfully, but I didn’t know.  I just couldn’t do that. 
I still can’t.  Despite the fact that I think if I actually did get into a sleep that was deep for long enough I might just go into a coma and come out sometime next spring.  And I don’t think my body would’ve caught up. 

I remember mandatory Sunday nap time.  How I hated it.  Yes, my parents firmly insisted upon that once a week tradition and I remember the way I submitted in body but nothing about my mind went to sleep.  I’d just lay there using all that precious time I could have been fast sleeping to scan the ceiling and do all my dreams in the day.

Fast forward to me and my almost seven year old.  You know those kids that take two three hour naps a day?  Or wait those kids who have a nap time?  Where the house lulls quiet and people actually get things done?  Hmmm. Yeah me neither.
I know they exist in theory, it’s just that the theory has never materialized into reality here in this patch of grass, within these wide awake walls.  

My oldest daughter and now youngest daughter are now the chief offenders of nap time and bearers of the same spirit that never wants to ever go to sleep. 

It was like this from the start. From six months.  That baby who pulled up to cling to her crib rails and in brazen baby defiance cried for three hours and was asleep standing up.  And then repeat. Repeat.   That same little girl at four ran to a frosty paned window and said in utter lament (after I made her take probably her last nap), “Mama you made the sun go away.”  Let me tell you that made the child within me about sick and re think the idea of a forced nap.  I think that was the only one she had that year.   Being labeled as the reason the sun went down was a little more than I could stand.  

Last year on a sick day, where I  had a fever and so did middle girl and little girl, I forced Meredith to lay down.  I thought the presence of all of us packed tightly onto that full sized pink bed would surely make her sleep and give me an hour of rest.
The baby’s chest was rising and falling and middle girl was dreaming big, I dared a half opened eye at Meredith afraid that one sideways glance her way might ruin it all for me.   Her eyes were fast roving the ceiling.  I never could go to sleep then.  I kept stealing glances at her and in amazement for two hours her eyes never closed and I have no idea what she was deep thinking about.  I remember telling her in exasperation, “You wasted those two beautiful hours you could’ve been sleeping.” 

It always makes me laugh when people getting ready to have a baby discuss the possibility of not sleeping anymore.  You stand upon the precipice of two or three hours scattered here and there.  I have to smile and say, “You get used to it.  It becomes your new normal.” 
Now when my two year old wiggles out of bed and can’t sleep instead of being angry (most of the time) I just embrace it and get up.  I sit with her and she play reads me books or we share an episode of Pooh bear and she gives me smiles and time we wouldn’t get alone during the day. 

Three weeks ago as we were rounding the kids up to leave their grandparents (after three gatherings and 30 hours of non stop activity and holiday fun) my six year old cried rivers. “I don’t want to stop,” she sobbed into her grandma’s sleeves.
“Meredith, it is so late” I tried to reason with her green eyes. 
Like that made one bit of a difference to her. 
We firmly coaxed her into her coat and got her home and teeth brushed.  It was almost midnight as I walked past her room and I heard her voice call out, “Mama?” She’s still awake.
I padded into her room and she said wistfully eyes full moon awake, “I wish this day didn’t end.”
Now, who can’t smile at a wish like that?

That’s always her and I’m a sucker for it.  She lives every drop of life that is squeezed into every minute of every day. 
She loves life.
And I have to say despite the fact that I must claim Isaiah’s verses literally,
Even youths will become weak and tired and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. 
They will run and not grow weary.
  They will walk and not faint.”
I smile and think this is me now at almost thirty trying to keep up with a six year old that never grows tired. 

Meredith and I have had several discussions about Heaven and she always makes the point that, “You don’t have to sleep there.”  And that’s of paramount importance to her.  She discusses the material of beds there.  And if she would actually need a bed and of course she would not be using one. She said to me recently as I insisted she go to sleep, “I just don’t want to miss out on anything, Mama.”  I had to smile, as if her dad and I collapsing on a couch together was of great interest. 

I shake my head tired sometimes, but I cannot look down on the same spirit that’s within me.  That was me twenty years ago. 
In high school my favorite teacher gave us all awards and the one I got perplexed me a bit. You know you always want a “Best personality”, “Witty”, “Most popular”, you know the usual.  I looked down at mine. It read, “Indefatigable Spirit Award.” 
Uhh, what did that mean?
“Incapable of being tired out, not yielding to fatigue, untiring.”
Hmmm. Was that a good thing?  A notable thing? Really I didn’t know any other way.  I rather didn’t like it at the time. 
Twelve years later I get the meaning and am living the meaning with some other little girls.

I used to and still sometimes do try to push against the reality of my life.  What I think my life should look like.  How it needs to fit into the mold of others'.  I want it to look like an ideal that I believe I'd like better.  Like kids that sleep.  And other more important things that I think are necessary to the life I'd like or should be living.  But I've realized that many times my resistance only breeds frustration in my heart.  Sometimes when I just decide to give in and embrace what is, I don't miss out on the joy that can be.

Even if that is at midnight with a baby who can't stop telling me her stories. Some of the sweetest most meaningful moments I've shared with my oldest girl happen after the usual bedtime.  Or maybe in the endless interruptions that happen to me every week and make me never quite feel like I had a day that went as planned.  People who call, friends that drop in, conversations I have off the cuff that I squeeze in somewhere over the noise of screaming kids.   I truly am becoming a woman that is over with perfectionistic planning.  I think I like my life better this way.  Even if I wouldn't have planned it.

Meredith, the chief bearer of the Indefatigable spirit now 


  1. Oh, this is so me... pride keeping me from rest. This line says it all for me, "I want it to look like an ideal that I believe I'd like better." Such a timely message during a demanding season. Thank you for your beautifully written words.

  2. Oh the lessons we learn from our little ones!

    And oh, the relief that comes from accepting what is true in our lives.

    And oh ... the need for us all to have a good nap!

    Advent's sweetest blessings to you, Summer ...

  3. Love this! I hated taking naps when I was a kid and thought my mother held onto the practice far too long just so my sister (who was younger) would sleep too! I applaud you for not making them nap and encouraging their joy to be with you and their zest for life! How sweet that they don't want to miss a thing -- and oh, wouldn't that outlook be fitting for us too?

    Happiest of holidays to you and your sweet girls and many, many blessings in the new year (and I'm hoping for maybe even a little extra sleep for you this Christmas too!)

    1. Valerie. You got me. As usual. I surrender schedules for spontaneity usually. Even if it costs me. I'm with you....I am so glad that she hates to see a day end. I always want to encourage that. I hope your Parisian Christmas happens. What a treat!

  4. I had a sleepless child first, and so when my second one would sleep for 8 hours a night at 3 weeks old, I almost called the doctor. When she had long naps AND slept all night, I really did get worried! I later found out she had sleep apnea from super enlarged adenoids. But, she still doesn't stay awake as late as my first child (who sort of resembles me). Keep close to your Source and you'll find that you always have enough energy and time for the really important things (people) in life!

    1. I'd never change it. Her enthusiasm while sometimes a challenge is something I don't ever want to diminish. Some of her best ideas happen late. Who knows maybe one day ill have that sleepy baby...maybe..I'm 0 for 3 😊

  5. That is a hilarious award! I hope you are proud of it now! :)
    My girls took good naps, but I am a firm believer that it is because God knew I needed them to!


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