Motherhood teaches you lots of things–most often explaining things that you never understood as a child.
For example, when I was little I hated naptime and bedtime–basically any time that my parents told me to go to sleep. My five-year-old mind could not wrap itself around any logical reason why they might want me to go to bed. It just didn’t make sense! Why would they not want to spend every single waking moment with me awake? Couldn’t they understand that I didn’t want to sleep–I wanted to be awake and having fun with them?
(Because they obviously did all the fun stuff after I went to bed. Ice cream, candy, movies… sure, I got ice cream and movies too but they had more. And as everybody knows, the cardinal crime in the mind of a five-year-old is having more of a nice thing than somebody else.)
After I got a bit older, I stopped caring about the whole naptime/bedtime thing because it slowly fell off the radar. Naptimes became the time that I could hole myself away in my room and read for hours, and bedtime also became something of a reading bonanza.
Fast forward a few more years to late high school and college, and I actually found myself wishing for bedtime and naptime a little bit more often. Of course, by then, it was far too late, but it was a nice thought. You know–you’re sitting there in the stacks of the library, surrounded by books thinking, Man, I wish I could nap right now. But inevitably, there is a paper due on the morrow, and you haven’t even started writing it yet because you just haven’t found that perfect angle.
That somewhat hazy desire for naps that high school and college foster, however, isn’t really an understanding of why naps were such an issue as a child. You just don’t think about it, and even if you do think about it, there’s no way to understand it. Yet.
changes the ball game. Suddenly, I know not only why I had a bedtime, but why I had a naptime. There are three reasons I’ve realized so far.
Reason numero uno: Mom needed a couple hours out of the day where she could actually get housework done, or have some small amount of time for reading/quiet thought. Don’t get me wrong, you can do most things with a baby hanging off one hip (my mom taught me this 🙂 ) and it’s not even bad. I enjoy having Sophia around while I’m cleaning or cooking, or shopping, or just about anything. However, everything that you do with a baby takes at least twice as long to complete. Even so, sometimes it’s nice to just have an hour or so to do things at a more normal speed. And then, every once in a while, you just feel like you need that hour of no whining or baby talk to remember that you’re an adult and not some strange alien life-form that constantly refers to itself in the 3rd person, because, after all, if you don’t tell baby who you are, who will?!
The second reason, (the one that inspired me to write this blog post because I realized it this morning) is that sometimes Mom wanted a nap. And whether she could take one or not, sometimes it helped just to know that someone in the house was taking a nap. You know how they say parents dress their children based on how warm or cold they feel (also true, I’ve found, what a surprise). Parents nap children partially based on how tired they are. Sometimes it helps to know that somebody, somewhere is napping, even if you can’t!
The third reason, is that even when kids think they aren’t, they really are tired. Sophia already does this. She doesn’t want to nap. But she’s so tired she can barely hold her eyes open. And since she’s so tired she can barely hold her eyes open, she cries and fusses for no reason at all until I put her down for a nap and she’s forced to accept how tired she is.
I know, impressive revelations, right? You’re welcome.