The Sacred Hour

I've heard tell of the Afternoon Nap. It is a time treasured by every full-time parent. Starting around noon or one o'clock, two or three hours of quiet, unmitigated bliss. What do mothers (and some fathers) do with this luxurious time? Clean the house, do the dishes, read a book, have a cocktail, write daily blog entries, knit, sew, quilt, watch soap operas, do yoga, plan dinner, scrapbook?

I wouldn't know.

About once a week, Daniel treats me to a long afternoon nap. By "long," I mean 60-90 minutes. Usually, though, he sleeps about half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the early afternoon. Some days he takes another short nap right before Stu gets home from work, but it's not his usual habit.

Now, I believe in following my child's cues for eating and sleeping. After all, how can you force a baby onto a schedule? But this faux nap thing he's doing is driving me batshit insane. I need this time to do what?...whatever it is I would do with free time. I need this time without my child hanging on my hip and climbing all over me. I need this time to do grown-up things like read something other than board books (much as I like "Runaway Bunny," it wears thin after a few readings). I need this time to feel like myself. I have to keep believing that time will come.


annalu alulu said…
You crack me up.
Jenn Hacker said…
It won't hurt Daniel to be left in his crib with some soft, safe toys to keep himself entertained while his mommy gets some self time. He may cry a little at first, but once he's been fed and diapered, it won't hurt him a bit to be put back down in his crib. This was sage advice my mother gave me, and I resisted it for ever so long. But my mom pointed out to me that he needs to get used to having some alone time as a baby, otherwise he'll go the rest of his life expecting you to entertain him all the time. The way she put it was, "Will he still be attached to your hip [okay, actually she used a different word that sort of rhymes with hip, if it ended in a t...] when he's 18? I don't think so."
Suze said…
Thanks for the advice, Jenn. i finally did that today, and after a few minutes of crying, he fell asleep. His feet were sort of sticking out of the bars, but he didn't seem to mind. You know, he's such a sweet baby during his waking hours that this shouldn't even bother me so much, but by 3pm today (which is when he finally fell asleep for about an hour) I was at the end of my rope!
Jenn Hacker said…
Honey, it's called "parenthood" and it happens to everybody! Don't feel guilty for needing time to yourself. That's one of the myths of mommyhood. Despite what the "establishment" would have you believe, you are not a bad mother for needing time for yourself. Becoming a mommy doesn't make you suddenly impervious to the basic need for personal space.
Becca said…
I echo Jenn--giving Daniel some quiet time serves two very important functions. First, it gives you a chance to recharge and release some of the pent-up frustration, giving him a fun mommy when he wakes up. Second, it teaches him how to play independently and begin to use his senses and imagination to explore. He sees the world through you almost all the time, and he needs his own time to figure things out on his own.

If he won't sleep, that's OK. Give him some crib time with his favorite toy, favorite book, and some music, and let him play while you have an espresso. Get a playpen and let him play in that occasionally while you knit nearby or get some housework done. Taking some time for yourself won't hurt him a bit--he knows you're there. I think that giving him some alone time will also help him increase his awareness of his surroundings and improve his overall sense of security--he'll come to know he's still safe and loved even if he's not in mommy's arms.

There's a lot of guilt tied into this formative time, and Jenn's right--being a mom means sacrifice, but not total sacrifice of self. I felt really bad at first for wanting a break from it from time to time, but it's like work--to be the best I can be as a mom, the quality of the time is important. Sure, I can spend every waking moment and be resentful, frustrated and cranky; or I can give him time to play on his own for a bit, surf a blog or two, and release that energy so that I ENJOY the time I spend with him. At his pediatrician visits, they've been impressed with his social development, independent play, and motor skills--these are all things he'd wouldn't be learning if attached to me all day.

Jenn, I'm curious--what word sounds like hip, ends in t, and means approximately the same thing? The word I keep going back to doesn't quite meet the criteria, but is the only thing coming to mind.
Suze said…
thanks, becca and jenn. i can say those things all i want, but there are times i don't believe it until i hear (or read) the words from someone else.

yeah, i'm stumped on the hip thing. jenn, this blog is not yet rated, so end the suspense already! hee hee.
Anonymous said…
Ummmmmmmmm, could it be, um, tit?
Suze said…
DUH!! How could I NOT think of tit? Especially since mine have a baby-shaped barnacle hanging off of them about 6 hours a day? Sheesh.

Thanks, anon (er, Jenn). LOL!

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