My Dad is famous in our family for his napping. After he got home from work and before dinner he’d “take ten.” On weekend afternoons after yard work he’d take a nap. In fact the only time I was threatened with a spanking, as a child was once when I dared to interfere with his rest by pulling back his eyelids asking, “Are you in there Daddy?”
Later, when I was a young mother Dad visited me with an armful books; poetry and the classics. While others extolled the virtues of a cleaning your house, doing laundry or getting a jump on dinner, my Dad encouraged me to take time to rest, read, listen to good music while my baby slept. I took his advice, maybe for the first time in my life.
Dad taught me not to take myself too seriously. He’d say, “Jean why don’t you let the world take a couple of turns on its own.” This gave me a great visual of my feelings; as if I was personally responsible for spinning the world on its access with a hand crank.
My husband didn’t understand my napping. He used to call me in the middle of the day. I swear just to catch me napping. I’m not sure whether he was jealous of my insistence on staying home with our children, or if he just though I should be filling every waking hour in productive endeavors.
When I was due with my second child people warned, “You’ll never get a chance to nap with two little ones. They’ll never sleep at the same time.”
I thought differently though. I somehow thought that I could encourage my sons to enjoy our quiet time in the afternoons as much as I did.
Oh, there were times that they emerged from their bedroom after nap time painted from head to toes with finger paint or some other mischief, but for the most part we all enjoyed our siesta until they left home for school and I went back to work.
The biggest thing I learned from taking naps was how to let go of the need to keep doing things, lay down, breath and relax. This practice still serves me well. It helps me to step out of a situation, get some perspective and get new inspiration for solving problems without consciously working at it.
Recently I overheard my son Nathan on the phone with a friend. They were discussing a paper he was writing. He said, “Yes. I’m going to finish it today, just as soon as I take a nap.”