There were a number of years when I followed the old adage, when your babies nap, nap with them. I found it a delight for those few short years I was a stay-at-home mom: my two babies nestled in my big bed, a short stack of Beatrix Potter books to read and then we were all out for a good hour. Afterwards, we would bound up, babies ready for big brother to come home and enjoy an afternoon of leaf piles and walks to see the neighborhood pony; I could manage the dinner preparation and the multitude of rituals that led to a day’s end all on the reach of that nap.
As far back as I can remember my mother napped during her day. She would leave us in our play saying she was just going to close her eyes for a minute. Just like that she was stretched out on her bed, arm shielding the light, and for twenty minutes she let herself drift into a carefree blissful slumber. A cat nap. She was always able to pop up in a flash too. No lingering or groggy reentry, but up and back at it. Six children, a large house, a punctual husband, and the urgent demands that such a household demanded, all on the reach of her nap.
My grandmother also was a napper. Mother of eight, wife of a hard-working and prosperous man, she too ran a lively household with poise and grace. But like clockwork, after lunch, she disappeared to the chaise in her bedroom for a quick thirty minutes of quiet rest and with the same bounding energy of my mother, she returned ready to take on the challenges coming her way.
As life moves on and children grow beyond those simple needs, we let go of those few moments of repose. But should we? Naps enable one to make it through. With a smile. With grace. Imagine Scrooge allowing for a nap time? Never. Instead it is work work work, not a moment to recharge or replenish oneself. Not a moment to acknowledge all the labor of the day or to prepare for the joys of the evening.
Even as I write this I know that given my job, my workout regime, my social calender, naps are not possible during my work-week. But perhaps taking three minutes to breathe, to close our eyes, away from the computer and desk and phone, perhaps that space just might be enough to find a few of the benefits associated with the nap and those short minutes might make the whole day a bit nicer.
My grandmother lived powerfully into her nineties and my mother is still exhausting the world as she hits her mid-eighties. Perhaps napping is the secret to better health? Perhaps…