Mom to Mom
A Year to Nap
Reflections on sleepless nights and busy days
With my youngest child in first grade now, all three of my children are gone all day long. I have looked forward to – and dreaded – this time in my life for as long as I have been a mother. A spark of freedom. Uninterrupted time all to myself.
It wasn’t so long ago when I was in the throes of the diaper warfare, down in the trenches, with interrupted sleep every single night: babies teething, crying, waking to feed and toddlers having night terrors. Daytime brought dirty laundry, bottles, sippy cups, filled diapers, tantrums (mine and theirs), PBS shows with men dressed in purple dinosaur suits, goldfish crackers and me, desiring a warm shower and compliant offspring.
I remember thinking, OK, the year they are all in school together full time, I am going to take THAT year off from life and just SLEEP. I figured it was going to take a full year of sleeping every single day while they were at school to catch up on the missed sleep from those first five years of parenthood.
Do I feel this way now? Sometimes. I long for afternoon naps on the couch under my favorite blanket, while the sun streams through our skylight window. I long to turn off the phone, rest my eyes, to lie there uninterrupted for even just a fraction of an hour. To close my eyes and think, OK, what do I want to do now? What can I do for myself today?
But I’m not going to go into this self-induced hibernation like I thought I wanted to because there’s still so much to do. There’s the grocery shopping and the laundry, and, oh, gosh, do I ever loathe the laundry! And there are trips to Target and back-to-school shopping, which I haven’t done yet because I’m frugal, and I’ll do that when all the cool stuff is gone and there’s just crappy stuff left that I can get for really cheap. Because my kids are still pretty young, and maybe they won’t realize that I’ve bought them the cheap, crappy, leftover back-to-school stuff.
And, well, while I kind of would like to take a yearlong hiatus and catch up on sleep, I also kind of want to … well … I kind of want to work. It’s the kind of work I love. Writing about how I feel and sharing the thoughts with those who understand what it’s like, or maybe those of you who have not yet been there and need to know that there is a light at the end of that really dark and smelly “I-will-die-if-I-have-to-change-another-blowout-diaper-at-4-a.m.” tunnel.
There really is a light.
Your children will stop waking in the middle of the night. And they will stop needing that nighttime feeding. And they will stop wearing diapers. And all of their teeth will eventually pop through those swollen gums. They will start using the toilet and wiping their own butts. And they’ll use utensils and napkins and regular cups. Then they’ll start asking for play dates, and they’ll go off to the neighbor’s house and you won’t hear from them for hours, and you’ll sit at home and wonder, Where the heck have my babies gone, and don’t they need me anymore?
They will. They’ll still need you.
And that’s why maybe I don’t need a year off to nap.