I Believe in Naps

Morgan - cambridge, Massachusetts
Entered on April 11, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

My grandmother napped daily from 1 to 2 pm. She ate her lunch – a cup of soup, a deviled egg and a sandwich, then closed the door to her porch bedroom, drew the blinds from the midday sun and slept. The house fell silent. The phone didn’t ring. The dogs didn’t bark. The children didn’t scream. At 2, she emerged from her room and life resumed. The beach beckoned, the vacuum started up.

My grandmother believed in naps.

As a child in her summer home, I quickly picked up the phone on the first ring if someone didn’t know the no calling rule. I didn’t understand why her naps were so important. There were more fun things to do, but they made noise – tennis down the hill, roof ball, or running outside. My grandmother was an ordered woman: lunch at 12; naps at 1; dinner at 7.

I don’t run my house like that. My meal times vary and my naps overtake me. Sometimes I fight them off – willing myself to be productive. But often, my naps simply beckon, when the work is too hard, the papers mount, the checkbook just can’t be balanced, or my daughters’ homework is too much.

My eyes and head grow heavy, my body weighs more than usual and I think and act in slow motion. Sinking into a bed – mine or one of my daughters’ – in the middle of the day, or lying wrapped in a blanket on the couch an hour before dinner, knowing I’m going to drift away from the noises, my worries and responsibilities, makes me feel safe, warm and secure, and a little guilty. There’s always more cleaning, another sewing project or emails to send.

If I’m reading a book or watching TV, I can be interrupted. The phone rings, children call, papers need correcting, and I should be writing the article due yesterday. I’m not even protected in the shower. They know where to find me.

But napping is my time, when no one can bother me, when I can shut out the chaos of the day, when I control what happens.

Naps may be decadent and escapism, but when I wake I’m refocused. The checkbook, my daughters’ mood swings and my papers don’t seem so all encompassing and threatening. I’ve had a break. And dinner? There’s always take out.

I’m not good at relaxing or sitting still. Neither was my grandmother. I excel at keeping busy. There’s laundry, meals, dogs to feed and walk, carpools and lessons to organize. But if I’m napping, the pressures and worries of the day go away. All that’s left is the softness that surrounds, envelops, cushions, shelters and hides me, if only for twenty minutes, or even an hour or two.

When I tell my kids I’m going to lie down, they know not to disturb me, to protect my naps from intruders – their fights, the doorbell, the phone, or our dogs. Sound familiar?

I believe in naps.