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Do not wake my sleeping child or I'll kill you off in my next book. Photo by Flickr user Dinah Sanders (Creative Commons license).

Do not wake my sleeping child or I’ll kill you off in my next book. Photo by Flickr user Dinah Sanders (Creative Commons license).

The nap.

The most blissfully private, self-indulgent two hours of my day, when drowsiness takes over, the shades are drawn, the house is quiet, the blankets are warm, and the dreams come.

And I’m not even the one sleeping.

Knock on wood, my two-year-old is the greatest sleeper ever. He goes to bed at 8 PM and never makes a peep until between 8 and 9 AM. Even on the rare occasions when he’s not feeling well, he sleeps through the night. And he still takes long naps, usually from 2 to 4 PM.

If you’re a mom, please don’t tell me what other moms seem to delight in telling me: that the days of the nap are numbered, that he’ll eventually refuse to lie down while it’s light out, that he’ll outgrow it…

For a single writing mom who works from home, the nap is all I have.

I used to try to clean the house while my son napped. I used to prepare meals and do laundry, which, when you’re tiptoeing around trying to be the most quiet a human has ever been, is not easy. I would just be finishing my chores, steeping a cup of tea and digging a book out of my bag, when I’d hear his first little post-nap chirps.

Sometimes, I’d cry then.

Usually, I’d take a quick gulp of too-hot tea, burn my mouth, swear, dump the rest, and go change a diaper and empty a bin of baby toys onto the newly-swept hardwood floor where we do our best playing.

One day I decided, no more. The nap is mine. One day, I put my son down and took a bubble bath, then ate brownies and wrote a poem. The next day at nap-time, I watched two hours of Sex and the City and painted my toenails. The next day, I wrote another poem and read a book. And the day after that…I napped, too.

I can throw a load of laundry in while my son flips through his board books on the living room floor. I can wash dishes and chop vegetables for dinner while he’s eating strawberries and crackers in his high chair. I can run the sweeper…well, I can never really run the sweeper because he’s sort of afraid of it, so I have to carry him around while I vacuum one-handed, cooing, “Almost done! Almost done!”

The only time of day where I can relax and focus and be awake enough to put words down is when my son is napping. This is my single writing mom’s afternoon delight.

This narrow time frame causes me some anxiety because of course some days his naps are shorter than others, or the dog barks or the phone rings or the stupid neighbors decide 3 PM is a great time for .22 target practice. But then there are days when he naps for three hours (three hours!) and I write and write and still have time for tea and maybe some peanut butter toast, and sure, what the hell, I’ll chop some veggies for stir-fry later.

For now, nap time is mama time. And you know what? My house is messier, but I’m a re-energized and better mom, and my son is a happier kid.

And the most profound and amazing thing is—nevermind, gotta go, he’s up!

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