When I was a teenager, I used to creep through the house well after midnight, hunting the portable phone so I could break my 10:00 curfew and talk to a boy. I’d prance through the den where I’d find my mom curled into an indestructible ball, asleep on the couch.
I’d often run into my sister who was too on the prowl for that cordless phone. (Back then, twelve o’clock in the morning was trifling teenage hour.) Together we’d attempt to wake my mom— literally shaking her shoulder we’d say, “Mama, Mama! Wake up and get in the bed!”
Deeply annoyed, Mama would raise up and say with a snarl, “LEAVE. ME. ALONE.” She’d then curl right back up on that indigo blue couch and ease back into her rest.
Understanding that this woman was not to be disturbed— that she had been disturbed all day long— that she was going to get up and go to her bed on her own terms… we learned to stay out of her restspace, and to take our young, selfish asses on somewhere.
Mama was tired a lot. She was a full time teacher, mother, and wife. She also had a few other gigs throughout the week, like tutoring, teaching GED classes at night, being an entrepreneur and a big dreamer/ Black woman with an even bigger heart.
One thing she deserved more than anything was peace, quiet, and to be left alone. Couchsleep was her form of self-care. That, and getting in her car to go on a random drive— a tradition that created the classic mystery game of our household: “Where Did Mama Go?”
I believe it is the expert mom’s message to her fully bloomed daughter to not overdo it when it comes to being in selfless service to others. As we get older, our mothers’ life lessons become ever clear and true:
Close your eyes and rest well, even if it calls for a hard crash on the couch…
Indulge in personal care in ways they wished they would have…
To not give so much of ourselves that we don’t have the know-how, strength, or ability to recover…
To not be harsh when it comes to our temples. Our bodies matter, and they are beautiful…
To refuse to be exploited or shortchanged on our jobs, and to pivot into our passions when enough is enough…
To enjoy the quietness when no one is around, and not create more work for ourselves in the relaxation process (Mama was often surrounded by unfolded laundry during her couch slumbers.)
Quiet as a spiritual practice is such a sweet indulgence— it is the companion that knows the true depths of a woman’s soul. To find a quiet place is to find sanctuary and be in a covenant with yourself. Because when it is quiet, we can better discern what our true needs are whether it’s basic rest, a good cry, or a change of scenery.
Somewhere between Heaven and home, I see her— hear her— reminding me to be more careful about putting the needs of others before my own.
— Excerpt from the personal narrative, “Why women are sleeping on their couches,” Serenity Everyday
Have you listened to my podcast?