The Brood: Kairos, Chronos, and Whoa, I Need Sleep

by Holly Mohr

Today is an exhaustion day.

It’s a day when I do what needs to be done with as much equanimity as I can muster, in part because that’s who I want to be, and in part because conflict takes hella energy, and man, today I just don’t have that to spare.

 It’s the kind of day where I choose to be grateful, for so many things: getting to work safely, even given the unexpectedly icy roads, being able to spend time with my kids as part of some of my work. I’m even grateful for the things that have made me this exhausted: being woken up multiple nights in a row by children I’m genuinely blessed by, staying up too late one of those nights so I could laugh a little longer with my husband, helping make a really intentional family retreat happen, and planning for a week’s worth of late nights in a job that matters to me.

I have enough experience with this particular kind of exhaustion, though, to know choosing the gratitude is enough. I don’t need to experience it in a particularly visceral way. I have no plans to smile more to express said gratitude; in fact, I may not smile at all for the rest of the day. I don’t need to expend additional energy feeling grateful. Knowing I am is plenty.

From there, I choose to acknowledge that I don’t quite have everything I need today, so I set to finding the micro adjustments I can make to give myself a little more of what I need: when the retreat leader asks if I’d like to chat while cleaning up or have some quiet time, I truthfully answer, “quiet,” and let that be okay. I choose a beautiful and somewhat secluded room to do the rest of my work and conserve my nervous system a little. I’ll probably have some more apple cider vinegar tea tonight, and I’m already planning where I can find some real rest this week.

This season of life, the one packed with growing children and flourishing work, can feel aggressive. To say there is always more to be done is an understatement I would laugh about if I had the energy (I don’t, so I’m looking ahead at my computer with a dour expression—not angry, just too tired for sound and expression).

One of the most nuanced but profound joys of this time of life, though, is learning the skill of limit and boundary. Yes, I have already blown past my allotment of energy for this week, but I know what to do with my time to get a little of it back when I really, really need it. I certainly know what not to say yes to at this point in life. The absolute necessity of so many things, coupled with the real limits of time, resources and headspace absolutely compels me to know when to say no, and when to venture a yes.

There is a sweetness in that, knowing that time is finite, energy is finite, and, with that knowledge, being open to receiving the gift of each piece of it. There’s something delicious about each hour of the day having meaning, having purpose, and noticing my own needs in the midst of all those hours (whether they can always be met or not). It feels like an intimacy with the stuff of life, some sort of scenario where I get to see chronos and kairos come together with a kiss, a sort of merging of the finite and eternal, played out in school drop offs, work projects, coffee dates and evening meetings.

Or maybe I’m talking crazy talk now. I am really, really tired.

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