Ask a stay at home mom what her favorite part of the day is and if she doesn’t say naptime, I call her bluff. I will be the first to admit that naps might be the reason I’m still sane after 11 months of working for the toughest boss I’ve ever had and why one glass of wine is usually enough at night. When I was pregnant and naïve, I swore that I would not be a slave to the baby schedule. I would be totally laid back, time would not be a factor and the two of us would embark on multiple outings all day everyday. Fast forward to reality, and I protect naptime, like it’s a winning lottery ticket, so don’t even think I’m leaving this house after 2pm. That time I thought she would nap in her stroller at the mall while I shopped? Rookie mistake. Naps are sacred and to be protected at all costs, obviously for baby, but equally for mom. Necessity is the mother of invention, so when you spend all day with a Stage 5 clinger, naptime is when the magic happens. Cramming as much (or as little) as possible into one hour increments truly becomes an art form, and the masterpieces created can be compared to some of the greats.
Sure, if you are like me abstract art doesn’t make much sense at first glance. But one thing is for sure, Pollock really knew how to fill a canvas. And similarly, this nap is all about maximizing tasks. As you creep and sneak out of baby’s room, you start the stopwatch. You have one hour to accomplish as many of the 1,472 items on your to-do list as possible, so hopefully you are caffeinated. First up, complete all tasks involving two hands. Change a load of laundry without “help” and take the trash out to the street without having to lug the barnacle with you. Next, complete all tasks requiring the use of dangerous objects that are the siren’s song to your child. Chop things that need to be chopped. Load or unload the dishwasher, which for some reason lures baby into climbing it at every opening. Finally, finish up any tasks that are time sensitive (what day is it again?) because after she wakes up you will definitely forget. And just as you grab a snack and sit down, somebody is ready to get back together.
Best news ever: your bestie texts in the morning and wants to meet for lunch! Adult conversation? Yes, please! Less amazing news: lunch will take place in public, which involves ending your two day pajama streak and the only time available for uninterrupted personal grooming is during morning nap. Squeezing in a shower, hair and makeup (dry shampoo and mascara) and finding clothes that are clean(ish) involves excellent time management skills, which luckily we moms excel in. If you also have to shave your legs, pray for a miracle and/or a really sleepy baby. The result? Nobody explained a Monet better than Cher Horowitz in Clueless: “From far away, it’s OK, but up close, it’s a big old mess.” Mom translation? As good as it gets.
The Van Gogh
No, this one is not about cutting off one’s ear in an effort to get relief from non-stop crying or whining. The beautifully mesmerizing Starry Night was inspired by the view from the artist’s asylum window. This nap is all about taking a pause to get some perspective. Sure, you just sat down and there are toys everywhere, piles of (clean?) laundry on every surface and you have a million things to do, but not during this nap. Grab a cup of coffee, turn on Bravo and stare adoringly at the sweet little sleeping baby on the monitor. The only thing you will accomplish during this nap are getting up to speed on the Real Housewives and a greater sense of calm and appreciation of beauty amidst the chaos and insanity. Trust me, this perspective goes a long way, especially when the clock strikes witching hour.
Even with things like “nap strike” in the back of your head, there is nothing more disappointing than when a nap either doesn’t happen or is cut short. Yeah, I’m talking to you, solicitor who had the audacity to ring the doorbell in the middle of the day. Pretty sure he won’t ever be back. This also happens unwittingly when we have the best of intentions (see The Pollock) but then decide to get online “real quick” and then…hang on a second. Why is she awake already? A quick glance at the clock tells you that the Facebook rabbit hole got you for over 45 minutes. Those melting clocks feel all too real. It’s going to be a long day.
This nap is somewhat of a unicorn because I’m not sure it exists much past the delicious newborn stage when sleep is taken by both parties whenever possible. Truly, there is nothing sweeter than when the stars align and you and baby are able to nap together in perfect harmony. Sure, dinner isn’t going to prepare itself and you were looking forward to a warm cup of tea and the book you’ve been trying to finish for 8 months now, but time stops when a soft mushy baby is nuzzled up against you. Just give in and try to recoup the sleep you lost this week due to the impending arrival of tooth number #7.
Whatever work of art you are able to create on any given day, don’t forget that naps are the ultimate lunch break in a job that doesn’t allow nights, weekends or holidays off. Each day is different so create the masterpiece that meets your needs. Remember the old days at the office when you lived for your lunch break and/or happy hour? The breaks keep you good at your job, so here’s to success on your next art installment.