It was late in the evening. We had just finished putting our oldest children to bed. I left the baby in his crib hoping he would be okay for just a little while, so that I could squeeze in a few minutes in the bath. I turned on the hot water and sank down deep.
It was the first time all day that I had paused, to take a deep breath. I was still adjusting to having 3 children. I didn’t know what normal looked like yet, but I was trying to find it, getting closer every day.
I closed my eyes to relax, and right at that moment, I could hear the cries of my newborn calling for me. I knew my husband was close by and would be quick to grab the baby.
My heart whispered, hoping my plea would somehow reach my baby’s little ears, “Please be okay. Mommy really needs to rest.”
Through the wall I could hear my husband talking to our baby, trying to comfort him, but nothing was working.
My husband stepped into the bathroom to let me know that he had tried everything and needed some help.
I wish my response reflected love…but in that moment, I wrestled with selfishness. I didn’t say a word. I turned my shoulders away from my husband and stared at the wall. Pure exhaustion was ruling over me.
Please don’t…” My husband said to me, “please don’t check out.” His tone was one of concern more than frustration.
He walked out and closed the pocket door to the bathroom. I was upset that he would call something out in me so boldly. Yet, I was perplexed by how well he discerned the situation, and so quickly. About a minute before he had walked in with our fussy baby, I literally thought to myself…
I just want to check out.
This wasn’t the first time I have felt this way. Maybe that’s how he knew where I was, so quickly. In my flesh – because it is weak, very weak – I have used that phrase before when I felt overwhelmed. I just want to check out, runaway, escape, even for just an hour, although staying somewhere else overnight has crossed my mind before too. I don’t want anything or anyone to need me, or draw from me the last bit of energy I have.
I’m not proud that my husband called out something in me he recognized, something he has seen before. A look of defeat. I’m not proud that I have wrestled with feelings of wanting to check out. In those moments of feeling weak and wanting to escape the pressure of the day, I want to be quicker to rely on God’s strength and slower at finding a way to check out.
Checking out is selfish. The enemy would love to convince us that we deserve it, that it is the only way to survive, that we have a right to check in and check out when we feel like it. God’s Word doesn’t say anything like that though. God’s Word tells us,
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Matthew 26:41
Our flesh is weak, and if we are not careful, we will fall into temptation. Wanting to “check out” whether emotionally, mentally, or physically in your relationship with your husband or because of motherhood is a temptation for our weak flesh.
As a wife, I am called to be one flesh with my husband. So when hardships come and I feel like checking out, I can’t. I am suppose to be one with my husband. We need to work through things together, supporting and encouraging each other. Which means I can’t check out emotionally either. I need to be able to communicate what I am going through and give my husband the opportunity to encourage me through it.
I am also called to be a mother to my children. They need me. So when I feel overwhelmed and want to check out, I can’t. Together with my husband, we navigate parenting. And not because we have to, more so, because we get to! These children are a blessing to us and I never want my flesh or the enemy to convince me that they are an inconvenience or that they are in my way.
I hope you understand that this doesn’t mean that I should never rest or have personal time. I believe that taking time each day to have personal time is crucial for rejuvenation, even if it is just for a few minutes or in some cases does end up being on overnight getaway. What I am addressing here, is that voice that creeps up when life gets difficult, and tries to convince me and tempt me to “check out,” to escape, to avoid the learning curve that inevitably challenges me with marriage and parenting.
The difference is in the way I communicate.
Turning my back to the wall and avoiding a conversation is saying a lot through body language. And what I could have said to my husband was that I will be out soon. Then when I am able to, talk to him about how I am feeling overwhelmed and strategizing together what is needed.
Sure life is going to be tough. And of course, there will be moments where I need to have some personal time to take care for myself. But being faced with the challenges of marriage and motherhood are not good reasons to check out. It is in those moments I need to remember that I am weak and that God is strong. I need to trust in God and rely on Him to make me stronger. I also need to remember that growing pains hurt sometimes, but the reward is great. I need to bring my requests to the Lord and ask Him to help me find time to rest.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
If you feel overwhelmed by your marriage or motherhood, please don’t fall into the temptation that checking out will help you…it won’t. God can help you and He wants to help you. Trust in Him, seek after Him, and know that the experiences you are facing are growing you as a woman. And when you need it, be sure to communicate your needs with your husband and come up with a plan so you can have some personal time, to take that bath, to read a book, to pray, or to nap.