My grandmother napped every day from 1 to 2 pm. She ate her lunch, which usually consisted of a cup of soup, a deviled egg and maybe a sandwich, then closed the door to her porch bedroom, drew the blinds from the midday sun and went to sleep.
During the summer, the house fell silent during that hour. The phone didnít ring. The dogs didnít bark. The children didnít scream. At 2, she emerged from her room and life began again.
The beach beckoned, the vacuum started up. Chaos resumed.
Her naps ruled.
As a child in her summer home, I was silenced during those hours. I quickly picked up the phone on the first ring if someone didnít know the rule of not to call. I didnít understand why her naps were so important. There were more fun things to do, but they made noise Ė tennis down the hill, roof ball, or running around outside. All I knew was that her naps curtailed my life.
My grandmother was an ordered woman: lunch at 12; naps at 1; dinner at 7.
I donít run my house like that. Maybe I should. My lunch and dinner times vary and my naps overtake me. Sometimes I fight them off Ė willing myself to be productive. Naps, after all, I was taught, are for the old and lazy. But more often, my naps simply beckon, when the work is too hard, when the papers mount, the checkbook just canít be balanced, or my daughtersí homework is just 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 Ė mine or one of my daughtersí - in the middle of the day, or lying on the couch with a blanket wrapped around me an hour before dinner, knowing Iím going to drift away from the noises, worries and responsibilities around me, makes me feel safe, warm and secure, and a just a tad guilty. Thereís always more cleaning to do, another sewing project to work on, emails to send.
If Iím reading a book or watching TV, I can be interrupted. The phone rings, children call, papers need correcting, and I should be writing that article due yesterday. Iím not even protected in the shower. They know where to find me to fix a broken toy or mend an argument, or just share a story.
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 have the energy to finish the article, deal with my daughtersí mood swings, or figure out how to balance the checkbook.
Iím not good at relaxing or sitting still. Neither was my grandmother. I excel at keeping busy. Thereís laundry, meals, carpools and lessons to organize, not to mention, dogs that need to be fed and walked.
But if Iím napping, the pressures and worries of the day go away, and all thatís left is the softness that surrounds me, envelops me, cushions me, protects me, shelters me, hides me, if only for twenty minutes, or even an hour or two.
When I tell my kids Iím going to lie down, they know not to disturb me and to protect my naps from intruders Ė their fights, the doorbell, the phone, or our dogs. Sound familiar?
My naps rule.