I’ll admit to being a mother who once rolled her eyes when other moms couldn’t have playdates because it was “nap time.”
Not that I’m unaware of the extreme importance of keeping regularity within a child’s scheduled day—my daughter’s school breaks have always been one-part wonderful time off and one-part complete upset from lack of typical structure.
Still, it always seemed so annoying—and, I’ll admit, selfish—that other moms frequently wanted to get together at their houses because of so-and-so’s nap time—only now, I completely get it.
Because the thing is, in relation to most subjects both including naps as well as those completely separate from parenthood, one of the worst things to encounter is someone who thinks they understand a situation fully, but really don’t understand it at all—like me…with naps…before my second child was born.
Yes, my first daughter napped, but, looking back, not really; not much at all and almost never in her crib (it’s a long story). My second daughter, however—now five months old—naps three times a day, at the same time—well, until daylight savings time recently hit.
Our entire day is pretty much spent getting her to sleep, letting her sleep and then nursing her when she wakes up. (You know—it’s like I have a baby or something.)
More than this, though, I’m glad that she’s learning to self-soothe herself to sleep and has a time for her growing brain to rest and flourish (all the reasons babies and children nap in the first place). And now I get it—a mother’s job is to figure out how to go about daily life, including the needs of an older four-year-old child who obviously still does not nap, while giving these napping youngsters what they need.
There’s one afternoon of the week where we have activities and are largely not around. My baby is young enough, thankfully, that even though she’s angry to not be home cozy in her crib, she’ll sleep a little in the sling that I’ll wear, as her portable little mommy-bed. This allows her to doze and my other child to get out of the house a bit. (I’m sure when the weather warms up here in the Midwest, the stroller will be another welcome, occasional change.)
But back to having other friends who are also nap keepers: how are two nap keepers to play? My current answer: they don’t.
This leads to what many mothers I know, myself being one, experience: more solitude away from other adults than one human being should endure.
Not every young mother out there has family close by—this is one real “dilemma” of modern, American society. This means we don’t have Nanas over every day to keep company or lend us an ear or a hand to be held, while reminding that, “This too shall pass, dear.”
Additionally, it’s ideal for mothers to have friends with kids at a similar age—there’s a shared experience of life happening; one of dirty diaper mounds and exhausted eyes and tender mommyhearts and moments when only someone else going through it understands that some good days mean simply not yelling at someone. Yet, if my ideal friend also has young kids and we both have nap times to deal with, then how can we be real-life buddies, outside of texting and Facebook and Instagram? So far, I haven’t figured that out.
What I have figured out is this: There are spaces in life that happen and challenge—especially, ahem, the social, extrovert parent—who needs companionship and conversations of full sentences not about poop or potties, and these spaces are not for us, but for those we love.
In other words, it’s important—crucial, actually—to recognize that my own self-care is important—I will never be a woman, or condone a woman, who doesn’t care for herself and her own needs, using family as an excuse. Regardless, I chose—and would choose again and again—to have children. This, currently, means partners in the bathroom (always), food stains on random furniture (sometimes), and most friendships happening virtually or part-time, as opposed to random coffee get-togethers and anytime phone conversations.
But it doesn’t mean I don’t miss my friends, with kids or without. It doesn’t mean, either, that I don’t think of myself as a woman separately from “Mommy”—but, right now, I am Mommy.
So, I’ll let it slide when other moms, in my future, internally roll their eyes at my, “I’d love to play…at my house,” or, “Maybe after lunch, but before two, or after three-thirty, but before five? Somewhere in there?”
And I’ll keep, too, the knowledge secreted away that one day I will no longer be nap keeper—and this day will come much too soon.