nap times

Author: angiem, 03 23rd, 2011

In our home we have bed times not nap times.

In our home we have bed times not nap times.

My mother firmly believed in children taking naps. Her day was busy.  The two hours we were supposed to be sleeping was the only time she could dedicate to herself without interruption. She would shut the shutters and pull the drapes, making the bedroom as dark as possible, then line each of us in the big bed in order of age. Being the oldest, I was the last to get in.

I hated napping. I didn’t need much sleep. Everything has changed the minute I gave birth, of course. Now I can sleep and sleep, but don’t have the time.

Sometimes my mother would sit in one of the chairs and wait for us to fall asleep, scolding us to close our eyes or we would “get it.” Getting it, probably meant a spanking or a slap. I don’t know. We never actually “got it,” although we always expected to. The rest of my siblings would fall asleep, and I would listen to their gentle snores and pretend that I was asleep as well. Then she’d leave the room and shut the door, turning the key and locking us in. I know. I can hear you all thinking: Inhumane. But back then everyone and their grandmother did it.

The bedroom had a glass door covered by a lace curtain. It looked right into what would be called the living room, but what was actually a fancy sitting room that also doubled as a guest room. My mother would sit and read or sit and entertain her girlfriends who’d come visit. I would get out of bed as quietly as I could and make my way to the door, crouching there, waiting to see what would happen. I wonder if she ever suspected me. If she read, there was nothing to see, as soon enough she’d fall asleep herself, and she was not a light sleeper. That’s when I would explore the bedroom’s every nook and cranny for the stashes of chocolate I knew were hidden. My mother rarely came to check on us once she had locked the door.

If her girlfriends came, she would serve them something sweet, and they’d sit around the table talking and laughing. The mother I observed then was a stranger to me. There was nothing serious about her. She was all smiles. I would study her friends’ shoes and clothes, their mannerism. Some were pretty and I was sure they were nice. The not so attractive ones, I was convinced they weren’t. I believed in fairy tales and that outward beauty equalled inward beauty.

Although she never left us home alone, I knew that some of her friends did leave their children to go to work, or stand in long queues for scarce food items. In different cultures people do different things. I used to have a French neighbor here in the States, who’d leave her three year old napping at home, while she’d run her errands. I wonder if that little girl slept the entire time her mommy was gone or if she woke up crying, terrified. But then I realized that it was the American in me thinking that.

If I would get too lonely during nap time, I would pinch the baby whose wails would wake up the others and send my mother rushing in. I would feign sleep. Surprisingly I was never caught; my brother was too young to tell.

Now I wish I had a designated time of day to nap. My children aren’t nappers. My son stopped napping soon after he turned one. He gets by on less than ten hours of sleep. My daughter napped until she turned three, and then just stopped. But I wish I could turn down the bed in the middle of the day and slip between the cool sheets. The room dark and quiet. Ah. Bliss.


25 Responses to “nap times”

  1. Monica Says:

    I think this is generational Angie and not just cultural. We wouldn’t dream of leaving our children home alone for a minute but, many women of our mom’s generation did. Child laws were not as strict than as now.

  2. Michelle @ The True Book Addict Says:

    I too hated naps when I was small. And my mom, like yours, was a big advocate of naps. My sons were not big on naps either…well, at least my oldest son wasn’t. My younger son was a little better about it, but I think that was because he would just get so incredibly cranky if he didn’t nap. He’s still like that with lack of sleep. Both my sons stay up too late and get up early for school. They seem to function fine on less than ten hours of sleep, like your son. Me….I sneak in a nap every day while they’re at school. :)

  3. Susan Deborah Says:

    Angie, this was a rich post with many details and philosophical insights. I love my naps and take them quite religiously when home but now, when I’m at work, I manage to catch a few winks with my head on the table. The summers are quite hot in India and so taking an afternoon siesta is almost an unwritten rule, esp, with women who are at home. People who work, don’t do this, how much ever they want to.

    Now, after reading this I’m wondering whether I should lay down my head on the table and take a nap as the time is 1. 10 pm and the sun is quite hot. Let me think . . .

    Joy always,

  4. Victoria @ Hibiscus Bloem Says:

    I’d love a nap in the daytime too these days. I never seem to feel fully recharged after a night’s sleep. Ruby is napping still but only on the sofa - all hell breaks lose if she sees her bed in the day!! I’m trying to keep the hour or so she does not going as its so nice to have absolute peace and quiet at this time. I’ve never left the kiddos to nap whilst I’ve run errands, but it is very common here in NL. I jogged with a friend who left her 2 year old napping for the 30 mins we were out. I’d be terrified if Ruby woke up crying, or heaven forbid, got out of bed and had a terrible accident.
    I love your story. It has such a ‘time gone by’ feel about it.
    Thanks for stopping by with all your lovely comments. I’m doing ok over here, Taking each day as it comens. Hugs xx

  5. Mwa (Lost in Translation) Says:

    I think we should all reinstate naptime. You are so right.

  6. Ava Says:

    I like how you write about these things Angie without ever blaming your mom. It seems you learned alot from the mistakes she made and are raising your children right.

  7. Lena Says:

    I loved this one, Angie… Brought back tons of memories…
    I take nap whenever I can… It just feels so luxurious…
    Warmest hugs, XXX

  8. Susan Says:

    Gosh, I loved naps as a child. Both at school & home. I know this makes me a rare bird, but I really loved it. Thanks for reminding me about something I was writing about a year ago. Eek.


  9. Susan Tiner Says:

    So this is where your finding stashed chocolate skills came from!

    I had that same experience, of observing my mother socializing with other women in the living room through the cracked opening of my bedroom door. I didn’t recognize her. The smiles, the mannerisms. It’s amazing how different she was when alone with us.

  10. Jena Says:

    Hi Angie. This post makes me sad. I hope your neighbor doesnt do that anymore. I know your mom was probably overwhelmed. Whenever you write of her you only have good to say.

  11. Mary Moon Says:

    Children may lose their need to nap but Mamas never do. Not this mama, anyway and now that I’m a grandmother, even more so!
    This was a lovely piece, Angie.

  12. Corinne Says:

    We’re near the end of naptime… Fynn gave his up long ago, and Paige in on the verge. I used to nap w/ them.. now we’re working on quiet time (just having to be quiet in a different room than mommy! ;))
    i can understand why mamas need their time (we all do!) but my heart aches a little reading this… though desperate times call for desperate measures! :)

  13. Cindy L Says:

    Now, naps are pure luxury. As I age, I don’t sleep as well … wish I had more time for those precious naps! Lovely piece, Angie — and sweet photo!

  14. Stephanie Says:

    I never was a napper - neither as a child or now. And even as the youngest of 5, my mom never forced me to. Even my children were not big nappers.

  15. Julie Says:

    HI Angie
    Yes I think it was generational also.. My mum would leave the 4 of us in the car whilst she did the groceries.. It was just a done thing then.. mind you the eldest were not so young.. but they were little monsters.. which made it tough on the youngest!! me! haha

    Your story has a tinge of sadness that you saw the carefree side of your mum as detached from your own life.. or a stranger.. Memories of a child and their feelings of being excluded.. I know I sometimes felt that my elder siblings had a different relationship with my mum as they were somewhat older than me.. another world you wanted to be included in..

    Love the photo of your family… so sweet.. Have a wonderful weekend Angie..ciao xxx Julie

  16. Susu Paris Chic Says:

    I used to hate napping too. Fervently. And now it is my ‘peché mignon’ cute lil’ bad habit numéro uno!

  17. Francesca Says:

    What a nice photo! I enforced “quiet time” when my boys were little and over their nap stage - it was a crucial moment in our days.

  18. laura Says:

    I love this memory, Angie. Believe it or not, I have some similar! My boys are much too old to nap…I can hardly get them to bed anymore. Now, of course, I long for the nap! Ah, for the simple days. Hugs to you, girlie. Hope all is well in your world.

  19. audrey Says:

    Angie your stories of family and home always makes my heart smile. Thanks for this! I just love the image of you kneeling by the door looking in on the doings of your mother and her friends… these precious moments in life!

    Hope you get some relief from your allergies… I know this can be terribly uncomfortable. … and a nap between the cool sheets… sigh! hope your dream comes true dear friend:)!

  20. Ruth L Says:

    I wish we could take naps at work. Just turn off the lights for quiet rest times. My husband’s cousins grew up with naptimes and they carry on with their children; and they’ll nap on their days off with the kiddies.

  21. Christie Says:

    Nap time. How lovely. Some days I long for naps, alas, it vary rarely happens.

    I need to visit here more often, I love your wonderful posts.

  22. snippets of thyme Says:

    My mother was the same. Nap time was imperative. I hated nap time but ended up getting captivated by the Trixie Belden Mystery series and most other beloved books during those times. Inevitably I would fall asleep and wake up feeling like it was the next day. Not until I had kids of my own did I understand the luxury, the pure luxury of nap time.

  23. krista Says:

    i don’t remember ever napping at home but my mom worked full time so i was always at school. finn has decided to stop napping as well. we try to get her to lay down for about a half an hour to “rest” but i think we’re losing that battle as well.
    your memories are so well preserved, my lady. i love when you give them air.

  24. Bunny Says:

    I love this Angie. Beautifully written. My children never napped , they only slept in the car a bit! I hardly ever sleep but a nap does sound nice right about now!
    Sweet Dreams

  25. Elisa Says:

    hehe, I also didn’t like naps. I remember when we were kids (my two sisters and I) and we would visit my paternal grandmother she always insisted that we take a nap. We didn’t nap anywhere else, not at our parents or Maternal grandmothers. So it was difficult for us and she would close the door and I have not idea what she did those two hours, maybe enjoy the quietness of her home? (she was a very strict grandma). but now with Beli she always struggled with her naps since she was about 12 months old,,,it was difficult to have her take a nap, (but I needed that hour or two to myself,,,selfish??? I guess I was still getting used to being a stay at home Mom, living in a foreign country, away from family and friends, that I needed some ME time.)

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