“I’m a homebody,” my son declared with confidence and surety.
I blinked. First of all, where did he (then four) hear that expression? And second, how did I not know this?
Through a series of hard events, I became a single mama when Emmett was two and a half. I was determined to provide him with structure to counterbalance the changes in his life and to make sure he felt secure. After work and school, we have play time, dinner, bath, stories, and prayers, in that order. He is in bed by a set time every night. This structure has served us well for the almost four years. But one part of our week’s rhythm was not working.
At the end of the week, I couldn’t wait to spend Saturdays with my son. I had plans to fill his early childhood memory jar with as many sweet and fun activities as I could find. Each week, I scoured the local paper for upcoming free events in the area, and I gave our weekend time a special name to solidify how exciting it was. “Adventure Saturdays” became a regular part of our routine, and I looked forward each week to picking up fresh donuts or flowers from the farmer’s market, meeting friends in the kid’s section of the library, having a picnic at the playground, or visiting our local transportation museum to satisfy my son’s passion for trains. I packed those Saturdays full of playdates or local [theater] productions, bike rides on the local greenway, or an ice cream cone at a 1950’s style shop near our house. We were having so much fun! My son obliged my plans but would often grow cranky or tired by the end of our adventures. I figured this was typical for his age until he made the “homebody” comment.
When I stopped to think about it, my little boy was just as happy sitting on the floor of his room constructing a world for his trains to move through and creating elevated train tracks and homemade tunnels. He loved when I included him in baking in the kitchen. Or when we sat on the couch and snuggled together watching a movie over fresh popcorn.
When I was in college, I took the Myers-Briggs personality assessment as part of a leadership training to serve on the orientation team. My extroversion showed up in flashing neon lights. We talked through our scores in small groups, and my group members looked at me with mouths open when I shared my 98 percent on the scale for extroversion. It was the first time I understood that not everyone operated the way I do. For as long as I can remember, I was a multi-tasking, fast-paced, juggling machine. I functioned in a rinse-and-repeat cycle of packing my schedule full, saying yes to all offers that come my way, making room and space to serve others wherever there was a gap in my calendar, and eventually burning out. When the burnout came, I would cancel plans to spend an afternoon catching up on sleep and all of my neglected chores. If possible, I maybe even threw in a run or long bath for “self-care.” Under the guise of being recharged, the cycle would start again the next day. Rinse and repeat, off to the races.
When my son first said he was a homebody, I called my friend Alexis, who has often talked to me about the importance of rest. The concept sounded amazing, but with one look at my calendar, I knew it was not practical for my packed-full life. My friend gently nudged me to find a time that would be protected every week for rest, even if I wasn’t ready to commit an entire day. As a Christian, I thought Sabbath — a day of rest — was an outdated commandment or a legalistic rule that would keep me from getting things done. I had to throw out the idea that Sabbath meant sitting stagnant and bored, unable to do anything besides reading my Bible or twiddling my thumbs until sundown.
When God rested on the seventh day of creation, he even modeled this time for us as a way to quiet our weary and tired souls for the purpose of true refreshment. In the conversations with Alexis, I realized my crash-and-burn cycle had been part of my life for over 20 years. The insanity could only stop if I chose to do something differently. My heart sang at the idea of change. With the help of my friend, I realized that Sabbath was not an ancient tradition but a rhythm our souls crave.
My son and I made a list of the things we both really enjoyed to do — the life-giving activities that fill us both up when we are empty, sad, or cranky. We decided to embrace Saturday mornings until early afternoon as our time for Sabbath rest. In the early days of our new routine, I sometimes forgot and planned an activity for Saturday mornings outside of the house. My son was quick to remind me:
“Can we please just stay home and have Sabbath time?”
We now wake up slow. While I brew French-pressed coffee, my son pulls his step stool up to the island in the kitchen. We bake muffins or cinnamon rolls with quiet hymns playing in the background. We sit at the kitchen table and paint small watercolor pieces, sometimes each on our own paper, and sometimes collaborating on a piece together. We talk about what we are grateful for. I read us a Psalm. Then he goes into his room and plays with trains, and I sit and write. We occasionally go for a walk or a quiet drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains to take in the beauty of our area of southern Virginia, but more often than not, we stay home. By the afternoon, I sometimes realize I could stay inside for the rest of the day and be completely okay. It is intentional, unplugged, and calm. It is the opposite of how I functioned for so long. We both look forward to it all week.
Every once in a while, we still partake in an Adventure Saturday. But for now, we both love the rhythm Sabbath creates for our home. For my son, who is introverted and quiet, this rhythm is like fresh air for his body. For this extroverted, worn out mama, the rest is a lifeline. It forces me to be still, against my habitual running. It cultivates time for the two of us to intentionally reflect, recharge, and rest. We connect with God and each other more deeply on these Saturday mornings than any other time of our jam-packed weeks. For this new rhythm, I am grateful.
**This article originally appeared on KindredMom.com.