Rest for the Weary

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

I crawled into bed just before 10:00 last night, utterly exhausted, weariness replacing gravity as the pull on my body.

The week, it's been a long one. The post-cruise vertigo is getting better, but at an almost imperceptible rate. Corey is out of town. I'm solo-parenting four kids who are wrung out after a week of go-go-go vacation. Kieran's body clock is messed up, so he keeps getting up in the middle of the night declaring it morning. Natalie started swim team this week, adding two nights of after-school practices to schedule already packed with make-up homework. Everyone is stressed and short, emotions and bodies pulled taut by a week of Too Much.

So it's understandable that I would run for bed as soon as I got the kids all tucked in. But as I sank into my flannel sheets last night, I heard a little voice in my ear.

"It's not even ten o'clock. Shouldn't you at least pick up the toy explosion in the playroom?" it whispered, condescension coloring its tone.

I brushed it away. "So sick of toys," I muttered back.

The voice tried again. "What about your blog? Shouldn't you at least write for 30 minutes before you turn in?"

I stared blankly. Weakly. The pressure was starting to build.

"Or at least get up and watch Downton Abbey. You're already two episodes behind. Besides, if you catch up, you won't have to be on the alert for spoilers everywhere you look."

I fidgeted under my down comforter, trying to squirm away from my overachiever, productive, perfectionist temperament.

Why can't I just rest?

That was my answer to the voice.

I need to rest. I'm tired. Right now, I choose being over doing.

The voice slunk away, murmuring a little as it went.

I picked up my dog-eared copy of Bittersweet. Shauna Niequist has been my steady bedtime companion for weeks now, and her true, witty and always hopeful words redirect my heart. They remind me of what matters.

And it's not that there are toys on the playroom floor.

By the time I set the book down and turn off the light, I'm at rest.


I can't find my balance this morning.

It's partly because yesterday, I was here.

And today, I'm here.

My soul hasn't quite caught up to my body.

But apparently, neither has my brain. Because for the life of me, I still feel like I'm on the cruise we just disembarked. Everything is pitching and swaying, and I can't walk without steadying myself on the wall. My feet don't work, and my head is spinning and if I sit still in the silent storm for too long, my insides start to churn.

It is the oddest and most uncomfortable sensation, especially since I never felt sick on the boat.

Google tells me "land sickness" is a fairly common malady for people who just got off a cruise, which is mildly comforting. I'm not crazy; it's just my inner ear.

But it doesn't help me tackle the piles of laundry or chase Kieran or get back to everyday life which came whirring at me full force last night.

Anyone have tips on how to make the spinning stop? No mom has time for vertigo.

Here, Taste This : Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia

One of the ways we celebrate birthdays in our family is by letting the birthday boy or girl choose their favorite meal for dinner. Our only rule is: It can't consist of four courses of ice cream.

Problem is, my two middle children, Connor and Teyla, are somewhat picky eaters and prone to negativity. I honestly don't know what their favorite meals are because they never seem excited about anything I put on the table. Unless it's ice cream.

But there is one main course I stumbled across recently they both love. It's easy (4 ingredients) and fast (15 minutes from start to finish) and relatively healthy (omega fatty acids for the win). The only problem is, it's almost too everyday for me to serve at a birthday party.

"Let's get excited,kids, we're having FISH for dinner!"


But it's not all about me, so I made cornmeal-crusted tilapia for Teyla's birthday dinner last week, and she was ecstatic. (She used to call it chicken, which is an easy mistake to make, since tilapia is a mild fish that holds its shape. We let her believe it was chicken for about a year, because we were afraid the word "fish" would transform the food into her mouth into "yuck," even if she liked it five seconds before. She knows it's fish now, but you know. You do what you need to do, and no judgement from me.)

Don't wait for a party to make this.


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 pound tilapia fillets


1. Warm olive oil in a 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium heat.
2. Combine cornmeal and Old Bay Seasoning in a shallow pan.
3. Coat tilapia fillets in cornmeal mixture and fry in pan, turning once, about 3-5 minutes per side, until golden and fish is flaky.


1. I use an old pie pan for mixing the cornmeal and seasonings and then coating the fish.
2. Sometimes, I cut the fillets in two pieces, so the thin side doesn't overcook while the thick half is still sizzling away. Bonus: Cutting the fillets in half make them more child-sized.

3. I serve this with my semi-homemade macaroni and cheese and a green salad or vegetable. Apples or grapes are a great fruit addition.


Last week, I discovered, with no small amount of horror, that I never wrote down Teyla's birth story.

She turned five last Wednesday, my sweet little warrior princess with the impish grin. She was a born on a cold January day, with snow ghosts skittering across the pavement and the sun shining bravely in an arctic blue sky. Which is ironic, really, because everything about her birth was as warm and comforting as a blanket fresh from the dryer. I blogged the basics that night, but I apparently never went back and recorded the details, like I did with the other kids. (Natalie's birth story is eight pages, single-spaced, Lord have mercy.)

At first, I mourned the details lost. I love a good birth story, and the details make it come to life. (I realize that's not always a good thing.)

But if there was ever a birth story to paint in abstract instead of realism, it is Teyla's.

The nurses and my OB were kindness personified, knowing my first two births had been dramatic and I had lost a baby just 11 months prior. They wanted me to enjoy bringing this little girl into the world, instead of giving birth to a child in a haze of pain and terror. They ordered my epidural early, they checked on my constantly and brought me warm blankets. They even let me eat during labor; chicken broth had never tasted so good. Their thoughtfulness was rewarded with a baby girl born by mid-afternoon. I laughed at how easy it was; I had never relished giving birth before.

In my heart, that day is painted in the palest pink, the pearliest white. Broad paint strokes of chunky red sweep through, raucous life-giving joy. It was tender and holy and healing.

To paint such beauty with the right angles of visible reality hardly does it justice. It was so much more.

So is she.


On the surface, I was a good parent last night. I made dinner, watched Phineas and Ferb with the kids ("In ancient Egypt, both men and women wore make-up!" "Oh, just like the 80s!"), I played firefighters with Kieran, I cleaned up the kitchen.

But underneath, I squirmed and chafed. I'd been writing in my head all day, all weekend. And now, at 6:00 on a Sunday night, I was ready to put aside the parenting and lose myself in words. I had so many ideas zooming around in my head, I wasn't even sure I could catch them anymore. They seemed to pick up speed with every passing moment.

Distracted. Outwardly present, inwardly remote. I missed sentences, replied absent-mindedly. The grilled cheese sandwiches ended up a little too brown.

And then it was bedtime. I've looked at this from every angle and tried all kinds of calculations, so trust me when I tell you - there is no quick way to put four kids to bed when solo parenting. It just takes time, and lots of it. Bubble bath giving, hair detangling, shower reminding, pajama zipping, teeth brushing, book reading, snuggle giving, hearts praying. It takes at least 90 minutes at my house, usually two plus hours.

By the time the little kids were asleep, it was after 10:00. I headed to the big kids room to pray, the finish line in sight. My pulse quickened. Almost there.

But when I walked into Natalie's room, I could sense she wanted to talk for a few minutes. There was nothing pressing; she just needed some one-on-one time without the constant interruptions that is life in a family of six. So we talked. And I listened. And she told me about the stories she makes up in her head to ease her way into dreamland. ("I really liked the time I imagined I was in the movie 'Sky High.' I was Will's sister, but Royal Pain had turned me into a back into a baby with the Pacifier after he was born, so I was his big sister and his little sister!") I prayed over her, a long prayer, thanking God for the blessing of her, asking God to give her an unquenchable appetite for goodness and grace and loving well, and I kissed my big girl good night, inhaling the heavy scent of her still-wet hair.

Then I walked down the dark hallway to Connor's room, where I found my 9-year-old on his top bunk, wearing an army hat and playing with his markers. Connor always wants to talk at night; it's my night-owl DNA he inherited, it feels hypocritical to be annoyed. So we talked too, and he read me many stories out of his new Big Nate books, always pleading, "Just one more, Mom! Just one more!" And then I prayed over Connor, thanking God for the gift of him, asking God to grow him into a strong warrior, who fights for justice and truth. He yawned just as I said, "Amen!" I said, "I love you, Connor" and walked out of his room with a smile.

Just as I suspected, I lost my words in the long trek to bed. The swirling ideas in my head faded and slipped away. I could see their shadows, but I couldn't reach them anymore.

And all of a sudden, I didn't care.

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