In These Middle Years

The bright and shiny of all the things we wanted – the kids, the dog, the house, the minivan – are dulled by fatigue. By being up for three hours by 8am and and still having read only one email, one verse. By sharing 2.5 cups of coffee with a spoon-wielding princess. By being an introvert who is accompanied by two littles in the bathroom, while a big-little knocks on the door.

We have comforts. We bought a new mattress to make us less tired. It’s fancy, and big, and came with a remote that we share. It lights the room blue at 2am when we wake, hearts pounding, thinking surely we’re supposed to be doing something, anything, other than resting tired bones. Even with a downstairs Nana, a few-blocks-away Gamma, our exhaustion defeats us.

Yesterday I met a woman with one little, another on the way. She has comforts, too. I can tell this by where her house is, where she works, what she wears. I can tell, too, that her comforts don’t make her bright things shiny. She has no Nana downstairs, no Gamma three blocks away. Just a new home, a new town, a long-distance family, and a few short months to go before she’s a mother of two. I want to sit with her, write a list of her needs. Share them with my too-tired mama friends and envelope her with love. But I know that if I were her, and I have been, I would say no. Would go it alone, overwhemed and longing. Determined to make do.

“Mom,” I say, “I am just so tired.”

I know.”

She tells me about her thirties, how every bone ached with exhaustion. How she hallucinated after three days without sleep when my sister was in the hospital. “I remember,” she says, “when we would go to the farm to visit grandpa and I was so tired. I thought I’d never feel rested again.” Even decades after the fact, I can hear the fatigue in her voice.

She had comforts, too, but still her bright things dulled in those middle years, when all we have are edges, stretched thin and yawning into nothing. Dangling our feet over empty, hanging heavy and threatening to burst.

And in this chasm, I read, in a moment almost ignored:

He stretches out the north over empty space;
He hangs the earth on nothing.
He wraps up water in his clouds.
They are heavy, but they don’t burst.
He covers the face of the full moon.
He spreads his clouds over it.
[ ]
Those are only on the edges of what he does.
They are only the soft whispers that we hear from him.
Who then can understand the thunder of his power?
(Job 26:7-9, 14)

Today, when I–

play 7am Frisbee with a princess and a troll;

rock and walk a 21-pound baby for over an hour;

am a fairy godmother in 2-inch heels and ankle socks;

cook things from a box in the oven and pretend they are real;

celebrate new life almost here,

I will dance on the edges, lean in for the whispers, find comfort in the thunder.

Pray other mamas whose feet dangle, alone, do the same.

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13 thoughts on “In These Middle Years

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    • I’m glad to hear there will be breaks and that it’s a bit easier for you now. It’s a good reminder that this too shall pass. I just opened my laptop a mere five hours after I last shut it. Exhausting.

      Thank you for reading and for your kind words!

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  5. Exhaustion can be so debilitating, Jamie! I’m glad God is with us in those moments we can’t summon the energy to move another inch. Thanks for reminding me that he keeps all things together even when I feel like I’m falling apart.

    Blessings,
    Tim

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  6. There seems to be no amount of sleep that touches this fatigue. I think it is especially difficult for introverts with little kids, as you alluded to. I need alone time to feel refreshed, which only happens if I get up at 5am before them, which then causes me to be exhausted by 2pm. Vivacious cycle. Heading to the Keurig now. Love your take on the encouragement in that verse.

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    • I tried that – Mr Social (how is it that an introvert Mum ends up with such extrovert sons?) heard my slippers soft on the tiles and decided to join me :-/ Twelve years later, I have to wake him and his two brothers up now!! It is lovely 🙂

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