I cling to it with white knuckles. I grip it hard and wrestle with it. I snake charm it into submission. I beg for it in hard, fist-clenching, head-pressed-to knuckle prayer.
For a tired mom of little ones, the coffee and cookie in a quiet house at nap time is life-blood. It’s survival.
And now, after three days of no nap, I sigh, sad, grieving, fearful—Is the nap gone?
Every time I brag to another momma about my almost four-year-old son who still naps, I look for wood to knock on. Three hours. I say. Three hours! Every day. And I watch a sad, distant memory cross their faces as they remember a lover they have lost.
I don’t really mean to brag, of course. It’s more like a counting of the blessings. But I still like to watch their faces to remember how lucky I’ve been. Finny still naps. Alleluia.
I’ve been called militant. I’ve been told I run a tight ship. But the nap, I sink my teeth into it every afternoon and let its sweet, quiet nectar run down my face. I snuggle in deep and let its salvation fill me up. I. Love. It.
I drink coffee. I read a book. I write. I pay bills. I answer emails. I prep dinner. I clean…occasionally. I sleep. But most of all, I think complete, uninterrupted thoughts for a couple hours every day, and find that by the end, I am ready to adore my children once again.
So for three days now, I’ve witnessed first-hand, the tell-tale signs of the nap fighting back. Finny still awake in his room after an hour, an hour and a half. And I contemplate how long I can make him stay in his room and try, try, try hard to fall asleep before it’s just not nice anymore.
“Mommy, I’m AWAKE!”
“Mommy, can I get out now?”
“Mommy, the sleep won’t come.”
On a couple of the no-nap days, he’s come downstairs and we do a puzzle together and have a snack or we read a book or he just kind of plays while I work at paying some bills or checking some email. And he’s older now, so it’s kind of fun. He’s almost four now, so we can start to sort-of hang-out together like human beings. Last Wednesday, he helped me shuck corn on the back porch and we talked about all the parts. The silks. The husk. The corn. The kernels. We talked about popcorn and syrup and…I’m no farmer so that’s about as far as we got. And he’s no great shucker so I did most of the work. But still, we had time for a little lesson, just he and I, no interruptions from Charlie. And it was nice to just sit and be with him.
But it’s also been nice to lay with him all these sweet and tender baby, toddler, preschool years, to watch his chest go up and down, to just have a quiet moment to stare in wonder at him. At his cheeks. His eyelashes. His little red lips. Heaven-sent.
But alas, if the sleep won’t come, then the sleep won’t come. And I can’t hold her here against her will when she has other places to be, other heads to fill with slumber.
And as much as I beg and plead with it, as much as I wrestle and sing and lullaby it, I have no spells strong enough to stop my little boy from growing up.
And so, I begin the work of trying to embrace it. This change. The altering of the entire day we’ve known for four years. My Finny who takes long naps. My Finny who snuggles down deep, who cozy-wozies, who succumbs easily to a hand brushed across his forehead, a good back-scratching, a soft lullaby. My Finny who gave away his Tissa and still held onto his long, afternoon snooze. My Finny who naps tells me now that the sleep won’t come. And he’s awake. And what will we do with even more hours in the day?
We’ll grow. Together. Him, filling his brain with more and more new and fun things to learn with extra hours in his afternoon. And me, filling my bag of tricks with more new and fun things to teach him.
So rather than grieve over the lost nap, I’ll embrace the extra hours I’ll have with him. In three short years, someone else will be his teacher all day long. For now, the privilege is mine.
That being said, that being decided, that I will glass-half-full it when the nap has officially made her exit, I still do have some fight left in me.
Which is why I sit here now. He fought and kicked and cried in his bed this afternoon, but I pressed on with the forehead rub, with the back scratch, with the lullaby. The sleep would come today. I knew it with every tear of protest that streamed down his face. She would come today. Not yesterday. Maybe not tomorrow. But today we’ll all have rest and I’ll drink it down with a cookie on the porch and a breeze and a quiet, quiet house, full of napping babies, big and small.