Fall is coming here in NJ. Well, maybe... uh, its supposed to be. However, we are still having 80 degree days and humidity. But there have been a few chilly mornings that give me hope for “sweater weather.” Fall is snuggly to me. November especially. My Grammy, Mom's mom, was born in November and she was the host for Thanksgiving. She had a cozy home and a way of making me feel loved. Grammy also could cook! I was about to go on down this track but I think I'll save that for the feasting post, that is coming up soon. But she had a way of making things cozy. Do you have memories like this? Is there someone in your life that made you feel accepted and warm and cozy? If so I'll bet that you realize how important that was to you. It adds so much to who we are as people. Feeling loved and accepted and right and comfortable is so very vital. It helps us to grow, it nurtures our souls and opens us up to think of things bigger than ourselves. I have been on Pinterest lately and I looked at Hygge. What is this? Of course now my page is inundated with Hygge posts. Hygge for Fall...Hygge your home...Hygge yourself! What is it?
In the book “How to Hygge” Signe Johansen says this: “A Danish/Norwegian word that translates as a feeling of cosiness, hygge can also mean kinship and conviviality.”
This got me to thinking about our current topic of Sabbath Rest. Coziness is very restorative to me. My Grammy had hygge down! I felt cozy and the feeling of belonging or kinship there. Not every kin feels like kin. What creates this feeling of coziness? The first sense memory that comes to mind is the smell of her house. The cooking smells, her personal smell, even the smell of the blanket that I wrapped up in for a nap. I think smells are a very strong memory trigger for many of us. I wonder what smells my daughters will associate with home.
What else made me feel cozy and warm and loved at Grammy's? There was a calmness there that I did not experience elsewhere. An unhurried air. We had things to do and there were schedules at times but often it was just a time to play in the yard or basement with few toys. One of my great memories of that time was being about 5 or 6. They had a very old piano in the basement. I would go downstairs and play. Now my playing was as a 5 year old would. Probably a cat walking across the keyboard would make more appealing and listenable sounds than my banging, but I would play my “piece” and then go to the stairs and holler up, “was that good, GRAM?” She would sweetly reply, “Yeah, it was great, play some more.” Now, as a mom, I see that that was a great way to keep me out of her hair and a way to know exactly what I was doing in the basement, but as a child.....I felt heard, I felt accepted, I felt encouraged. I could affect the world positively and I was encouraged to do so. I could make someone happy even though I was little. How warm is that?! And how easy it was for her. I hope I am doing this in my own life as a mother. I hope I am making them feel loved and special and warm.
Physical touch also added to the hygge at Grammy's. We got a hug coming in and going out and any time in-between that we wanted. Our special blankets were in the hutch so they smelled clean and fresh and cedar-y. We curled up on the couch for quiet time and were surrounded with softness. I felt secure and able to rest after a busy day of play or school or a special holiday meal. Though she often had chores to do, she would stop occasionally and look at a photo album with us or play a game. I remember playing at being a waiter or chef many times. I also made it difficult because whatever she ordered, I would be out of. But she would pretend she was frustrated and order again. She made time to be close. As I write this I am thinking that I feel restored when I spend time reading with the girls or snuggling with a movie. I especially like to color or do a puzzle with them. I hope they do too. I want to be more intentional about making time for these things.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to remember what things made you feel cozy then and and what makes you feel that now. Practice some self-care in whatever phase of raising children you are in. Sit and snuggle. Read out-loud to your baby all the way up to your teen. Think of ways you can slow down the pace of life and restore coziness. Let me know what ways you feel hygge or Sabbath rest.
Last time we talked about rest and what that would look like for a mom. There were four elements of Sabbath that my Pastor lined out, they were:
a)worship (which we discussed last time)
I told you in that post that I wanted to go out of order because I thought there was a hierarchy for moms. I still do but I feel that play and resting are equally valuable. So I must pick one to do next and I chose play. I choose that next because it really struck me as we were listening in church,
this is a key that modern moms are missing!
Pastor shared it like this, that we are told that the kingdom of heaven is filled with joy. Therefore, joy on Earth is a picture of eternity. My pastor then reminded us that CS Lewis had his Jesus character Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia, romp for joy after his resurrection scene. Did you lose your joy at the birth of your child? Are you so full of responsibility, as I am at times, that you forget the joy of being the mom of this little person? Does the work feel like drudgery and you forget to smile at your toddler? It happens. It does! But stop a minute. The dirty bottle will wait, (the dirty diaper might not, phew) but the housework definitely will. Smile, tickle, hug, play peekaboo, find something funny. Fake it 'til you make it but please do let down your guard, relax a bit and find the joy. You will! At bath-time, watch as your child marvels at the bubbles or put some on your chin and watch your toddler explode with laughter at the ridiculousness of it all.
True confession time. I had to stop playing Barbies with the girls, I had to find other things to play. I realized each time I was playing, I couldn't just let the prince climb the tower and get the princess. I had to ask, is this prince a Christian? Will he be saving his kiss for marriage? There was no silliness, no joy, just what I thought was moral teaching. And it was awful. And I was being ridiculous. I was much better at painting or doing a puzzle or other make believe play. I found that that was OK. The girls enjoyed time with me and we found other ways to giggle and romp that did not involve a serious teaching moment each second. Find your happy place with the older children. The best was often a dance party or blanket fort. So fun and easy to do quickly. Go with what makes you both joyful. Luke 11:32 to piggyback on yesterday, says “For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the kingdom.” I can't get my brain around that, but it does. Practicing kingdom rhythms makes God happy. Imagine how He must love it when we are being joyful with one another? That is amazing to think about.
I'm praying that you can leave your work behind a bit and change your mindset.
Besides what I just said about the restorative powers of playfulness, there is tons of research on the mental and emotional, cognitive and developmental benefits of play for children. If you are finding yourself worried about if your child is developing well or if you are easily swayed to the tiger mom camp, where you want everything your child does to give them the edge, I say two things, one, go back to the beginning of this series and see that this is just setting you both up for the culture of exhaustion and two, playing actually is the best thing you can do to foster good development in your child. Time to play. I know it can feel awkward at first. I really do. But if you let your child lead, the smile and light in their eyes will help you have confidence that you are doing the right thing. You will both feel refreshed and restored and Sabbath rested, no matter when it is.
A word about time. If you feel that if you open this door it will never end, you should remember that you are in control. You can say to a child, I need to finish this and then I can play for 20 minutes and then we will move on to quiet time, whatever has to happen. They may be upset at first but they will see that the play time is worth it, though it has to end.
Maybe play is painful for you. Maybe thinking of childhood is hurtful or someone took advantage of your playfulness and now it is connected to abuse. You are not alone. This is a broken world where that goes on. It is not what God planned for you but He can use that pain to bring healing and closeness to himself. Seek a guide, a christian counselor or therapist or a pastor who can help you through that or talk to a trusted friend. Don't miss out though. I have shared in the past that buried abuse can show up as you interact with your children. Your brain wants to protect your child and can call the trauma to mind. Use the memory to get to the bottom of things. I have and it has caused me to grow. HEAR ME: I am sorry that happened to you and it is not your fault.
I hope this week you find good ways to restore your soul and may sweet old-fashioned play be awakened in you. It is so good for you and it is huge for the life of your child. God intends for us to have joy. I hope we both can seek it as we practice Sabbath rest.
Paula is a single mother of 3. Follow along on her journeys of motherhood and her fulfilling work as a postpartum doula