I don’t nap well these days. I used to. Ohhhh how I used to. Well I recall the long Sunday nights of being totally unable to sleep – my body rebelling after already having been put through a three or four hour nap that afternoon. Even when our first few kids came along, after-church naps were a must – for the whole family.
But, something about six kids. Or, it might have been five. Or four. But something about this phase of others not all napping anymore; others awake -- continuing their mess making while I might try to sleep, has taken nap time from me. I will try on occasion, but inevitably, my mind begins thinking of Sharing Times not yet looked at, laundry waiting to be folded, dinner that could, and probably should, get going in a crock-pot. Throw in the possibility of mess and chaos increasing exponentially for each minute of unconsciousness, and, well, I just can’t do it.
Of course, one might not need to do too much digging to discover that I wouldn’t actually need these naps I’m missing – these desperate moments of sleep my busy mind won’t allow me – if I wasn’t up ‘til midnight or later most nights. And here I can only lift my shoulders in a shrug. I know it as well as anyone: what a wondrous life I might have were I well-rested. How easily I might get in things like early morning exercise or quiet personal scripture study . . . if the thought of waking even one moment before I absolutely must wasn’t so repulsive to my sleep deprived mind and body.
But, there’s nothing that can be done. (Again the shrugging and sighing followed by the halfhearted admitting that: technically that’s not true – that “nothing can be done” bit. There is very definitely something that could be done: I could go to bed earlier). And, in truth, each morning that I stumble groggily out of bed – and especially on mornings like this particular one, where I felt certain I’d only closed my eyes 15 minutes before hearing my alarm, and where I leaned over the sink, rinsing my face in the dark, and nearly cried as I thought of the school week ahead, the following weekend, and the next school week -- and found not a single morning in all those days ahead where sleeping in past 6 or 7 (depending on the obligation) was even a slightly hopeful possibility – on each of those mornings I swear to myself; I promise; I tack mental reminders all over my brain that say, “You will go to bed early tonight! Don’t be tricked. Don’t be fooled. Go to sleep for heaven’s sake!”
Only . . . a new devil-may-care me always rolls into town come night time. She crumbles up the mental sticky notes and tosses them in the garbage as she laughs about the uptight woman who might have written them. She starts movies with her husband when it is already past 10:00 pm (when it is well known that all saintly women have retired), she loads new photos on her computer to go through and edit, she pulls out raspberries and ice-cream to make shakes for herself and her husband, she even snuggles into bed – pretending like she might go to sleep – only to laugh again at the cautions and pleadings she’d uttered to herself that morning – and opens a book that she knows full well she won’t have the willpower to set down, she snatches the laptop next to her and opens it to facebook and googlereader and her email account where the most recent lengthy journal-letter from her oldest brother has just arrived. It’s all very guilty pleasure – none of that day-time “I can’t sleep because there are things that need doing” business. No, she can’t sleep because she won’t – because she is giddy and high with the freedom and time-to-herself-ness of nighttime.
Someday I will have an empty house. Perhaps things will be all tidied up put away. Perhaps projects will be all caught up on. Perhaps church obligations will be simpler and then, maybe, knowing that no little hands will be dumping out cereal and no little feet will be running up the stairs with new armfuls of toys or games to spread all over the living room, I will nap and my mind won’t stop me. Or, perhaps, I won’t even need naps. Perhaps the thrill of nighttime will be gone after a day full of doing all the things I selfishly want to, and I will happily head to bed at a befitting hour.
Until then, I suppose, I will just be tired and do my very best to take advantage of days like today. Days where, seeing my eyes droop one too many times, Mike relegates me to the bedroom – instructing me to lock the door behind me and not come out ‘til I’ve had a nap. On this particular day, I tried to protest for a minute – knowing how my nap-taking attempts always fail – knowing I’d get tense about getting a decent Sunday dinner going or about switching the ox-in-the-mire sheets (on which one small child had a night time accident) from the washer to the dryer. But when I heard Mike telling the kids all to get their shoes on and meet him out front, I knew he was serious about my napping, and so, I willed myself, with all my might, to wipe out the thought of the empty Anders’ bottle that I knew was still lying – just finished – on the living room floor, I forced myself to smother the urge to find a better spot for the inflatable duck next to the couch, I squeezed my eyes tightly shut – letting them know they had no permission to go see what shape the kitchen might be in. And . . . I slept! The kind of sleep where you wake up occasionally – feeling like a solid slab of iron that can’t lift its head from the pillow; the kind of sleep where you occasionally feel like you are trying to surface from the depths of a dark ocean – to check the time, or see how long you’ve been away – but find yourself dragged back down again before you are able. It was wonderful. It will do. And now, the weeks ahead with no foreseeable sleeping-in to look forward to don’t seem so bad; and tonight, I will stay up late cuddling Mike on the couch – the miserable girl who stumbled out of bed just this morning long forgotten – the fear of her return tomorrow morning dismissed. There will be time enough for sleeping. Surely. Some day.
And now, for some completely unrelated pictures!