When I hear my children complain about having to take a nap or go to bed for the night, I remember when those things were the bane of my existence too. Once upon a far away I too wanted to stay awake and play, but my Mean Old Mommy (M.O.M.) sent me to bed to lay there in silence until time was up or sleep took me. Now I have grown into the M.O.M., and I miss being sent to my bed. I wish for it, long for it, pray for it, and even beg for it. But alas, I am allowed no rest until my children are either under the watchful eye of their father or sleep takes them.
If something is going to be broken, destroyed, or otherwise messed up by my children, it will most likely occur in that brief interval in which I blink, look the other way, go to the bathroom or attempt to clean another mess they’ve made. Given this fact, you can imagine how adverse I am to close my eyes while they are still awake. However, sometimes being a mommy is just so exhausting, and I cannot wait for the changing of the guard.
In these desperate moments I engage in the most reckless behavior imaginable. I look my 7 year old in the eye, place my hand on her shoulder, and bestow upon her the most unfair responsibility in the world at her age; I put her in charge of her 3 year old brother so I can take a 15 minute nap. She is instructed not to open the door, answer the phone, or even open the curtains. (I’m not really sure why I tell her that last part. Exhausted mommy, remember.) I then go snuggle under my favorite quilt and pray with all my might for 15 minutes of rest without disaster befalling.
I do not do this often, but sometimes there is no way around it. I cannot function without an emergency nap. I know there are parents out there who would not take the risk. Heck, even I am not comfortable with it. But when it is just you and your kids, and the exhaustion is causing you do doze off every time you sit down, and you feel like you are going to fall asleep where you stand, something must be done.
Napping is risky business for a parent of young children, especially when they won’t nap at the same time–though it’s Heaven when you can have a family nap. So I opt to put a 7 year old in charge for 15 minutes. She learns responsibility, I get an emergency nap, and life goes on. Sometimes they crawl in bed with me. Sometimes there is a mess waiting to be cleaned up. Sometimes all a mommy can ask for is that no one dies and the house is still standing.