I knew this day would come.
It’s certainly no surprise. But, in parenting, a little bit of denial can go a long way.
Anyone familiar with me knows I love a bad analogy, so here goes another:
In boxing, the fight is grueling, no doubt about it. But even in this most demanding of pursuits, there are little breaks, where the pugilists sit at the side of the ring, have a drink and try to regain their senses. It’s only as a result of these intermissions that the fight will ever have the chance of going the distance.
For me, it was the same with parenting a little one. For hour upon hour your senses are pummeled as tears, food, poo and puke fly. The parent becomes totally punch drunk, but clings onto their sanity in the knowledge that there’s a nap around the corner, the child will be sleeping any time now. This sleep is, I feel, far more restorative to the parent than it’s ever been for the child. It’s a chance to catch your breath, wipe down the walls and consider a few winks of sleep for yourself.
There was something undeniably blissful about those early naps. When my son was tiny, we’d get several a day – in addition to the big bonus sleep at night. It was a like being on a game-show: racking up a Hoover, a weekend away in Rhyl and his and hers shell-suits before you got to play for the big prize: a Mini Metro.
Over time, the number of these naps noticeably diminished. Soon it was one in the morning and another after lunch. Still fine, giving someone like me the chance to do a bit of shopping, catch up on emails, or if I was feeling particularly productive do a bit of work. So many of parts of this blog have been written in the glorious 45 minute breaks my son’s naps afforded.
As he grew, I became increasingly aware that I was living on borrowed time – nap-wise. I’d meet ashen-faced parents, with kids of a similar age, who’d relay with a disturbing calmness – as if they’d given up the fight – that their child had stopped napping.
Such interactions, though concerning, didn’t make a huge impact on me. A loss of naps was something that happened to other people. It wasn’t going to impact my life. I wouldn’t let it.
But now, as my son finds himself comfortably in the midst of the ‘Terrible Twos’, his desire to nap has inexplicably gone for a Burton. I do all the old tricks, but none seems to work: a nice long trip in the buggy, milk and a lie in the cot, a cuddle and white noise.
The little one has decided that life is far too much fun to waste time napping. This realization comes just as I come to the exact opposite conclusion.
And so, there you have it. No more quiet coffees, tiptoeing around a sleeping tot. No more frantic typing as I try to hit a deadline while the little one sleeps. No more carefully controlled cooking – designed not to rouse him from his slumber. From the moment my son wakes, to the moment (many hours later) he lays his head on his pillow once more – the young fellow is fully conscious and overflowing with life and energy. Two elements his daddy is finding he has ever dwindling supplies of!
I’ve talked about milestones before, the points in a parent’s life where they realize an era of their kid’s childhood is over, with another just beginning. The loss of the nap is certainly a milestone I’ll remember. Yet I’ve decided to take the change in our schedules on the chin, embracing this lack of intermissions as a chance to really glory in the new personality that is forming in front of me.
That said, I’ve a feeling there’ll still be a few naps going on in our house in the years to come. They’ll be mine. 40 winks during Peppa Pig on Sunday afternoon.
I can’t wait.