Why I Am Not Napping at Naptime

In the beginning, it was about getting away.

When it was one all-consuming, all-needing baby, sometimes all I wanted was to explode from the house without looking back. I didn’t need to go far. To the grocery store, to the mall, to the park, just alone. Just me. To walk quickly, swinging my arms, a wallet in my pocket, was to take a small glimpse of my former, unencumbered self. Having caught this glimpse, I could go home again, fold my baby into my arms, smell his hair for the sweet green grass it was.

When it was one toddler and one infant I became far less romantic and far more desperate. I wanted to be anywhere they were not. Forget catching a glimpse of my former self, all I needed was 10 minutes free of grabbing hands, 10 minutes of quiet, 10 minutes of nothing. 10 minutes in the bathroom with the door closed would do in a pinch. I say “all I needed” but I mean “all I needed to stay on the balance beam;” really what I could have used was a whole day at a time. To dream the impossible dream.

Now it is one preschooler and one toddler and I no longer want to run away from them at every opportunity. Now what I want is my house back. Do you know what I mean? The most beautiful thing in the shortest supply, for me, is time alone in my house.

When weekends come around and I am presented with a couple of hours of free time I immediately do triage. Which part of me needs to be fed? Am I more tired than my hair needs cutting? Does my hair need cutting more than I need to write? Do I need to write more than I need to run? Do I need to run more than I need to sleep?

Yesterday, with the sun shining for what would be the last time until April, it was a slightly easier decision. I wanted to run. I wanted to nap. I wanted to write. I opened my journal, wrote a few pages convincing myself I should go outside, and went for a run.

Today, the clouds like pillows, the trees still as a photograph, it is less clear cut. I am sleepy and I came downstairs to crash out on the couch but the house is so quiet and peaceful that I can not bear to shut it out, to waste its peacefulness by leaving, even if I just close it out with my earplugs.

Sleep when the baby sleeps keeps running through my head, even 3.5 years since my baby was a baby, and then its counterpoint: but then you are always awake when the baby is awake and then you can never get away from the baby.

I used to need to get away. Now it is enough to be away. If that makes sense.

My hair is a petulant scrub of colours and chlorine-addled ends (apparently swim caps are no longer optional for me) but I will not be moved to put shoes on and go out of the house. In the end it comes down to: what will keep, what will rot, what needs tending. My brain, not my hair. I will regret this decision on Tuesday when I have to dig out a freaky bandana and re-tie it 17 times to get myself presentable but right now, I will not be moved.

What I need is silence. To be the only one awake. To have my mouth sealed shut for an hour. To not have to answer any questions, make any decisions, use any disciplinary tactics, enforce any bylaws.

The clock ticking. What a delicious sound.

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