First let me underscore the facetiousness of my title. A baby napping is a glorious thing. It’s like whipping cream simply poured onto your slice of apple pie; it’s like an unexpected package that arrives in the mail from a friend. The length of a child’s nap determines how clean your house will be, whether you’ll be having sandwiches or roasted chicken with a side of roasted butternut squash for dinner, and it absolutely controls the level of contact you’ll have with your friends and family whether by phone, visit, or email.
Nor is the nap all that common. People often forget this (or don’t realize it). Since leaving my job, I’ve had a couple offers for work I could do at home (reviewing grants, consulting, etc.). All came with the same suggestion: “It’s stuff that, you know, you could do while the baby naps.” These people are thinking of newborns, and they’re not right there either. When your baby is a newborn sleeping 6 or more hours during the day, you’re so tired from being up all night (and perhaps nursing all day) that you have no energy to do anything while she naps. By the time your baby is 12 months old, you’re lucky if she isn’t on a napping hiatus, and if not the now one nap per day could range from 30 minutes to (the blessed) three hours. And that’s no time to do consulting work. That’s the only time you have to clean the house, make the chicken dinner, and send off a quick email to your mom who’s wondering whether you’re still alive. And then those are those days when your schedule plays out such that baby’s nap is held in the car or stroller. You’re torn between feeling thankful that baby slept and won’t be cranky for the next three hours, and disappointed that any chance for alone time is gone and it’s officially you and babe for the rest of the day. The greatest challenge in being a parent at home is to teach yourself to always be thankful. Thankful that you’re spending time with your baby, thankful you’re not at a desk job all day, thankful that when it’s a perfect fall day in Wisconsin (as it was today), you have the freedom to decide that your child will be spending the bulk of it outside.
Today I had one of those moments of thankfulness. Alzette woke up from her afternoon nap after sleeping for only 45 minutes. I was surprised and a little disappointed. I was tired and hadn’t gotten much done and I was hoping she was going for a long one today. I picked her up and rocked her but she was definitely done sleeping. We went downstairs and sat on the couch. Then we sat there snuggling for the next 45 minutes. Most of the time I just sat back on the couch and she laid her head on my shoulder. Every now and then she would look up at something or try to take the clips out of my hair. It was almost as though she knew I needed a break. This was an unplanned moment of love and togetherness, and it filled my heart with gratitude for every minute I have with her.