“The year I say goodbye to my love.” A break-up letter to my son’s afternoon nap

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“A new year and a new routine. It’s gonna be fine”

Well, that’s what I keep telling myself.

This year I am moving on and I am closing the door on a relationship that no longer works in my life.

But oh! My love! It is not easy to let you go and that’s why it’s taken me so long to get to this point. That’s why I need an actual occasion, like the start of a new year, to make it known and official to the world, but mostly to myself, that the time has come. We must part ways. Oh naptime, I know this is the end of the road for us.

As I stand on the edge of January looking forward to a new year and a new stage of life without you, I am scared. How will I make it as a mom without you, my sweet, wonderful afternoon nap? I remember back when I first met you, right around the time my oldest was 4 months and had finally fallen into a decent schedule. That’s when I became really serious about my feelings for you, right when you became reliable to me. No matter what else happened, you were there for me. In the unpredictable world of diaper blow-outs and mysteriously high temperatures, and that fickle, fair-weather friend called “morning nap” who stuck around for barely a few months, you were the one thing I knew I could count on. I trusted in you. I loved you so. You offered me rest, a couple hours off duty, a daily pause for retreat. Because of you I was able to check and reply to my emails. I could place both hands on the keyboard, properly positioned on “asdfjkl;” rather than the traditional mommy typing method involving 1 adult finger hunting and pecking for keys while a tiny toddler hands bangs on the keyboard, threatening at any moment to get a lucky shot and hit send.

Oh naptime, it wasn’t just the emails and the calm moments at my computer that you provided. Because of you I was able to be a good mom and still be productive. I exercised, I read, I swept the kitchen floor, I sorted the mail and paid the bills. I showered without 3-foot tall visitors. I sat and heard the sweet sound of a quiet home. A sound that is rare for a mom of young children. It was magnificent!

Beyond the day-to-day joys, I think back on the special moments we shared. When a college friend came to town and we visited over coffee uninterrupted in the living room; when I was pregnant and nauseas and needed nothing more than a couple of hours to lie on my bed and watch Grey’s Anatomy reruns on my laptop. Because of you, naptime, an exhausted, sick pregnant woman had that chance a chance for the rest and mindless-TV fix she so desperately needed.

Oh naptime, we had a good run you and I. Sure, it wasn’t all perfect. You didn’t always treat me right. Occasionally your timing was bad. Sometimes you would show up too early with a stubborn attitude. You would lure my child to sleep in his car seat when we were simply too far from home. Though I would drive like the wind praying for a successful “transfer”,  it always ended badly. We also never traveled well together. The minute we left town you abandoned and ignored me, you put aside my needs with flimsy excuses of time zones and let lag and unfamiliar settings.

But we overcame those problems. Like anyone else in a good and enduring relationship, I looked past your flaws. I loved you and was so very grateful to have you as a part of my life.

Recently though, things have changed. I didn’t want to admit it, but the truth is, we just no longer work. Instead of symbolizing a brief time-out for mommy and a magical word that brought joy to my heart, the whisper of your very name…”naptime” has come to mean conflict. Whereas my son used to put up a faint protest that lasted all of about 30 seconds before crashing into hours of slumbering bliss and, he now (if I made him) would spend the whole afternoon lying awake in his bed yelling, “I’m NOT tired and WILL NOT nap no matter what!” On the rare days that you have shown up, we paid for it with a preschooler who stays up till eleven pm.

But, like any fool in love, I didn’t want to see the truth about our impending breakup. I held out hope, and looked for signs that maybe we weren’t over just yet! An exceptionally active morning at open gym followed by a loud yawn during lunchtime and my heart would think… “Oh, naptime, perhaps you will visit us today after all! “ I would hear stories from friends whose children slept every day till kindergarten and I would cry out in vain, “Oh naptime, maybe there’s hope for us yet.” But, I knew I was only lying to myself.

Like so many love stories that permeate our culture’s folklore, this is just another fantasy. The reality is that naptimes don’t endure forever. Our relationship was never meant to last. And I know this… I want my son to grow up, to progress, to be capable of more and more adult-like behavior. I have high hopes for him. I dream big dreams for him. None of these dreams end with him as a 35-year-old man who still needs a 3-hour nap every afternoon to keep from getting cranky. I guess that letting it go is the only way to get there from here.

Yes, I knew this day would day would come and now it’s arrived. It is time to say goodbye. I am letting you go. He is growing up and I am moving on. But, I will miss you my sweet friend.

Goodbye to my love, my afternoon nap.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Oh no…I can see my future…not yet…but I relate to all the feelings you had of that love affair. I don’t want them to end, but I know it will someday. Hopefully around kindergarten 😉
    Must rest and luck to you!

  2. Nap time never lasted past 2 years of age for my kids, at least, not on any sort of consistent basis. And because I have such a handful of little people, I was never able to view nap time as a reprieve, or a time for myself, more of a chance to simply focus more on the one or two kids who weren’t fast asleep. Those transistions, whatever they are, are potent reminders that our children are growing up. The biggest change I had to deal with this past year was of a similar nature… my youngest son started kindergarten. In years past, he was my buddy, my little pal that spent the day needing my help and keeping me company while the others were at school. While I missed the other happy faces around the house after the kids went off to school, I still had Ty. My jolly, funny, intuitive little buddy who still gave me that warm, needed feeling of being a toddler mommy. Now Ty is at school too, and there are days that I simply wish I could call in to school and spend the day with him, just like we used to. Thankfully this change, kindergarten, comes with lots of new and exciting discoveries for my little man, hopefully the end of nap time holds the same kinds of new-ness and growing for the two of you!

  3. Ah yes, we too have ended naptime recently. I would say there are a few upsides that I didn’t expect. The BIG ONE is a return to early bedtimes with no “one more glass of water” shenanegans. Another bonus is that I used to obsess over getting both kids down at the same time so I could maximize my alone-time…which meant that the younger one was often pushed past his tired point. Now he can go down whenever he’s ready. We’re sticking fast to the one-hour quiet time in place of nap, so we’ll see how long we can drag that one out…

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