I am a full-time working mom of three boys. Yep, three young boys. To say I am a busy lady is the absolute understatement of my last decade. I truly enjoy my busy life but a thought crept into my exhausted mind in the year after our third child came along. Basically it was this…before I had my third child; my mind was a steel trap. Since that third child, oh since that third child, my mind has become a leaky sieve. Exhaustion has interesting effects on one’s abilities. Everyone takes sleep for granted. I know I do because of that almighty, daily to-do list. So, herein lays the crux of my afternoons, to nap or not to nap?
The leaky sieve thought has solidified itself in my personal ethos since it first occurred to me. My stamina is just not what it used to be. Mornings start early and with a fervor. The boys always hit the floor running as usually does my husband, who has an affinity for that time of day. They wake up easily to mornings filled with chatter, tasks, meals, and activities. I, however, hover behind that first cup of coffee and just try not to growl. That said, once that first cup of joe kicks in, I am your woman. Laundry, phone calls, errands, crafts, practices…you name it, we are on it. I am filled with the drive to complete tasks, enrich our lives, really delving into all the details of each day. I find my energy and the family is a well organized team.
Then lunch time hits, everyone gets cranky and I mount the next task which is usually another meal for many. While I whip up something nutritious and the kids are running around, my best laid plans dance through my head. “Hey, today I can get those ten loads of clean laundry folded” or “now I’ll have time to start the next six month budget.” Great, let’s just eat and get the youngest down and I can get to work!
So, after our little guy settles in, I sit down for a rare quiet moment in my chair. I am guzzling another cup of hope, oh I mean coffee, that I will get it all done today. Then it hits me…boy I would love to just take a nap. No, I can’t do that! I have so much to do! And I work the next two days. And I’ll be too tired after the boys go to bed. Oh, maybe I’ll just lie down for a moment. Bam! Its 4 o’clock and where did the day go?!
The same thing happens to my husband when he is at home with the kids. He spends the morning just waiting to get the kids settled so he can get caught up on work. Then, he settles in at nap time and bam! He is drooling on his pillow in the middle of an afternoon.
Great, right? Enjoy the moment, right? Nope, the nap always comes at a cost. We wake up and think, darn, why did I waste the afternoon? Now I still have all that stuff to do and the kids are up and going again. Why didn’t I just stay up and not nap?!
That same question rings in our tired ears daily. “To nap or not to nap?” But what’s wrong with the nap? Why can’t we stop the battle with ourselves to do more? Why can’t we just let go of the world for a moment and relinquish into sleep? It never fails, I feel lazy if I sleep in the middle of the day. Or, I resent my husband if he calls me at work and is “just waking up” after a nap. Get moving buddy, fold some laundry, I growl silently in my head! Why, why, why can’t parents just take the breaks as they come, knowing full well how rare, few and far between these breaks really are? Why do we make that really exhausting job of parenting even harder with our own self talk? I actually won’t even tell my full-time plus working best friend if I take a nap with the kids. She would surely think I am a schmuck even if I do work 14 hours day on my days at work. Actually, she would probably say good for you! But then maybe sigh after she hangs up, wishing she could do the same.
To nap or not to nap….that is the question. Remember the leaky sieve comment? Well, that’s where the exhaustion gets me. Tired, forgetful, unable to really remember every little detail for five lives each and every day. No longer the steel trap, now the sometimes forgetful mama who occasionally forgets a permission slip or to grab granola bars on the way home.
My husband firmly believes I was a cat in one of my previous lives. My four-year-old and I were blearily sitting on the couch one afternoon, trying to wake up after a nap together. My sleepy, sweet guy turns to me and says, “Mama, you love sleep like I love candy.” I have never forgotten those words. I love nothing more than to sleep in a puddle of sunshine and wake up just a little more behind in my day. I tell my sons now, years later, that sleeping is my super power. If I could only just turn off the judgey thoughts in my mommy to-do list, nonstop head. Sleep should really be a vital sign. Without it, how would we ever get anything done? So, I guess I will take the leaky sieve, because we all need the sleep, even those supermoms like me.