"God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us." (St. John Paul the Great)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

On Sleep

I don't know many moms who don't wish for more hours in the day. I have often wished I didn't need as much sleep as I apparently do. I know people who can go strong on four or five hours a night. I need eight to nine to function optimally. And, by "optimally," I mean with love and patience. When I don't sleep well, I inevitably take it out on the kids. And so, my DH, knowing this, has offered, probably since we started homeschooling, to be on "night duty." He is the one that (99% of the time) gets up at night for sickness, or nightmares, or falling out of bed. The kids know to call him and not me in the middle of the night. And, really, this is one of the reasons my husband is my hero. He rescues me from myself. He rescues the kids from the me. And all because of my need for sleep.

I still wish I had more hours in the day. I still wish I didn't need so much sleep. And I was reminded today, in reading a friend's blog post, that this is something I have struggled with since college. One day, I lamented this fact to a wise professor, who later that week gave me the following excerpt from God Speaks by Charles Peguy. And I remembered today that, really, I still lack trust. I fear idleness. I, perhaps, could be classified as a workaholic.

But I remembered. And that is grace. So let the hard work begin anew.

I will trust. And I will sleep.
I don’t like the man who doesn’t sleep, says God.
Sleep is the friend of man.
Sleep is the friend of God.
Sleep is perhaps the most beautiful thing I have created.
And I myself rested on the seventh day.
He whose heart is pure, sleeps. And he who sleeps has a pure heart.
That is the great secret of being as indefatigable as a child.
Of having that strength in the legs that a child has.
Those new legs, those new souls,
And to begin afresh every morning, ever new,
Like young hope, new hope.

But they tell me that there are men
Who work well and sleep badly.
Who don’t sleep. What a lack of confidence in me.
It is almost more serious than if they worked badly and slept well.
Than if they did not work but slept, because laziness
Is not a greater sin than unrest,
It is not even so great a sin as unrest
And despair and lack of confidence in me.
I am not talking, says God, about those men
Who don’t work and don’t sleep.
Those men are sinners, to be sure. They have what they deserve.
Great sinners. It’s their fault for not working.
I am talking about those who work and don’t sleep.
I pity them. I am talking about those who work and who, in this,
Obey my commandment, poor children.
And who on the other hand lack courage,
lack confidence, and don’t sleep.
I pity them. I have it against them. A little. They won’t trust me.
Like the child who innocently lies in his mother’s arms,
thus do they not lie
Innocently in the arms of my Providence.

They have the courage to work. They lack the courage to be idle.
They have enough virtue to work.
They haven’t enough virtue to be idle.
To stretch out. To rest. To sleep.
Poor people, they don’t know what is good.
They look after their business very well during the day.
But they haven’t enough confidence in me
to let me look after it during the night.
As if I wasn’t capable of looking after it during one night.
He who doesn’t sleep is unfaithful to Hope.
And it is the greatest infidelity.
Because it is infidelity to the greatest Faith.

Poor children,
they conduct their business with wisdom during the day.
But when evening comes, they can’t make up their minds,
They can’t be resigned to trust my wisdom for the space of one night
With the conduct and the governing of their business.
As if I wasn’t capable, if you please, of looking after it a little.
Of watching over it.
Of governing and conducting, and all that kind of stuff.
I have a great deal more business to look after, poor people,
I govern creation, maybe that is more difficult.
Your might perhaps, and no harm done,
leave your business in my hands,
O wise men.
Maybe I am just as wise as you are.
You might perhaps leave it to me for the space of a night.
While you are asleep
At last
And the next morning you might find it not too badly damaged perhaps.

The next morning it might not be any the worse perhaps.
I may yet be capable of attending to it a little.
I am talking of those who work
And who in this obey my commandment.
And don’t sleep, and who in this
Refuse all that is good in my creation,
Sleep, all the good I have created.
And also refuse my commandment just the same.
Poor children, what ingratitude towards me
To refuse such a good
Such a beautiful commandment.
Poor children, they follow human wisdom.
Human wisdom says Don’t put off until tomorrow
What can be done the very same day.
But I tell you that he who knows how to put off until tomorrow
Is the most agreeable to God.
He who sleeps like a child
Is also he who sleeps like my darling Hope.

And I tell you Put off until tomorrow
Those worries and those troubles which are gnawing at you today
And might very well devour you today.
Put off until tomorrow those sobs that choke you
When you see today’s unhappiness.
Those sobs which rise up and strangle you.
Put off until tomorrow
those tears which fill your eyes and your head,
Flooding you, rolling down your cheeks,
those tears which stream down your cheeks.
Because between now and tomorrow,
maybe I, God, will have passed by your way.
Human wisdom says:
Woe to the man who puts off what he has to do until tomorrow.
And I say Blessed,
blessed is the man who puts off what he has to do until tomorrow.
Blessed is he who puts off. That is to say Blessed is he who hopes. And who sleeps.


  1. Love this post! Thanks for the reminder. I, too, could not do without sleep even in college. I always hated that I couldn't pull an all-nighter and function the next day! I was told by another mom once that sleep, for babies, is like food. They need it to grow and do a lot of their growing during that time. What makes us, mommies, so different?

  2. When it comes to sleep, or lack thereof, I repeat as often as necessary: Coffee is my friend. Coffee is my friend. Coffee is my...

    Loved catching up with you and LOVED the Weird-Mom-in-the-Patch-of-Sun post. Yes, we do what we have to do, don't we? Sun is good, too. Sun is our friend.

  3. I love all the pics of people and kids snoozing. Makes me wanna go take a nap.

    My husband is my hero....because he scrubs the shower for me. I never do showers.

  4. Another post that I needed today as I rise from my afternoon siesta. I, too, need a bunch of sleep to be of proper use to the world, and I can now say that doesn't make me lazy. Thanks for writing, thinking and making the world brighter, Michelle. Hope you enjoyed your retreat weekend!


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