It’s nine o’clock in the morning and the house is quiet. The Disney channel is on mute and the repetitive voices from the battery-operated toys strewn about our living room have finally shut up.
I pour my second cup of coffee and collapse onto the soft couch cushions that have been calling my name since the moment I woke up.
My baby is asleep and nap time has officially begun.
While I want to do a happy dance in my living room to celebrate, instead I reach for my fleece blanket, wrap myself up, and begin scrolling through my social media feeds. My to-do list is going to have to wait because these peaceful moments won’t last forever.
Nap time is a precious commodity in my household. I protect it like a mama bear protects her cubs. Get too close to the nursery door, and I’ll show my teeth. Ring the door bell while my baby is sleeping, and you’ll be met with a vicious snarl. I’m a mom that doesn’t mess with naps. Ever.
My fixation with nap time originated from the countless articles and books I read pointing to a direct correlation between napping and a child’s healthy intellectual and psychological development. I wanted my baby to thrive and therefore, I refused to interrupt the sleep she so obviously needed.
I must admit though, that the longer I’ve been a mother, the more I realize that nap time is just as much for me as it is for my baby’s growing brain and body.
When my baby is napping, I get a break from the crying, the whining, and the strain from the eyes that have grown on the back of my head. Nap time gives me a moment to drift off and remember the days before motherhood – when nine o’clock in the morning didn’t feel like ten o’clock at night. When I spent the early morning hours showering, styling my hair, and putting on a real bra instead of chasing down my daughter for a diaper change or wiping crusted spaghetti sauce out of her hair from last night’s dinner. For a short time, I feel a little bit like I did when it was just me.
And that’s when I realize that even though nap time is one of the best parts of my day, it’s also one of the hardest.
The freedom feels palpable, but I’m anything but free. I’m homebound, my range of motion dictated by how far I can walk with the baby monitor before it loses its signal. I used to dart out of the house when a friend called to grab a drink, or hop in the car to pick up a few ingredients for dinner. Now, I’m trapped by the nap.
Some days I love the peace and quiet, but others I want to scream, “Get me out of here, I want to go to Target!” I know I can’t have it both ways, but I can’t help the way I feel…torn.
I know that one day my baby won’t be a baby anymore, and that means no more naps. I’ll look back, longing for what I have right now, even if it means not being able to trek off to wherever I want.
I have a love-hate relationship with nap time. But like every other challenge that comes with parenting, I’ll find a way to adjust, adapt, and accept that things are different now, and that’s okay.
A baby’s babble can be heard from upstairs. I pour my third cup of coffee and already, I wish nap time was something I could count on forever.More On