Most mornings I wake up between 6-6:30am to take the puppy for a pee and let the chickens out of the coop. I’m not naturally a morning person but I’ve come to appreciate these early outings; watching the sun rise, enjoying the glimmer of the dew on the wildflowers. But there comes a time when I calculate in my head the number of hours of sleep the previous night as I decide whether to stay awake or go back to sleep. I weigh the possibility of a quiet early morning cup of coffee and snuggle with dogs with the memory of my exhaustion level at 7pm the evening before and almost always choose sleep.
Lately, when I snuggle back into our family nest to doze, I feel a bit smug, like my sleep is in defiance of the work culture that pressures me to be ever-more productive. It feels a bit like a quiet “fuck you” to my own mental conditioning brought on my a society that tries to guilt trip me for taking care of my body and mind.
It’s funny that capitalism can rob us of our bodies for so long and convince us that this is normal. My partner’s knees are shot from working as a mechanic for 10 years. My son used to fall asleep in his classroom in grade 2. I used to commute over an hour one way to a corporate job I hated. What’s worse: we now glorify this grind culture: side jobs, exhausted boss babes, endless busy-ness.
Even after a year of checking out, I still struggle with valuing the quality of my day on how productive it was. What’s worse: on how financially productive it was. My partner and I recently made the decision that I would stop taking on new clients in my freelance work so that I can focus on the boys, growing food, and our family business. I was amazed at how hard of a transition this was. Even after all this time, I still saw my paid work as more valuable than my non-paid work. And only in the last month have I made any progress in unlearning that rest is equally valuable to work, paid or un-paid.
I’m slowly discovering that my existence goes beyond the labour that my body/mind can produce. I’m also discovering that I do not need to sacrifice rest in order to be deemed worthy. For those that carry the additional burden of oppression like BIPOC and neurodivergent folks, this pressure to be productive is extra heavy and the need for rest all the more dire. It’s time that we dismantle the capitalist culture that robs us of our sleep-ins, our naps, our snuggles on the couch in the name of profitability.