BY LAURA SIMON, a regular contributor to Triad Moms on Main
It’s been seven days since my three-year-old took a nap. And before that last nap, it had been seven days since the one before. This is my third—and last—kid, and I think I know what this means.
Naptime is over.
Sure, she’ll probably nod off in the car from time to time, and on really tiring days she might give me a little doze, but if she’s anything like her brothers, I can just kiss those two (or sometimes three) hours of afternoon serenity goodbye.
On the one hand, this has all sorts of promise. No more rushing to be home by 1 PM in order to avoid the oh-so-dreaded car nap. No more leaving fun events early. No more missing afternoon parties. No more scheduling LIFE around that huge chunk of afternoon time. We can go to the zoo, the children’s museum, the beach…pretty much wherever…and stay the whole, ever-loving day. We can get our money’s worth. I am all about getting my money’s worth.
And, the sweet little squish now goes to bed around 6:30, which is good because that’s precisely when she decides to push ALL MY BUTTONS. Her older siblings have learned to A) chill a little and B) play in the backyard for hours at a time, so this little development is definitely taking the edge off my evenings. Sometimes I load the dishwasher in silence. I had forgotten what that was.
But at the same time, those afternoon hours were sweet and blissful. It felt like the whole world shut down, even though it was just our house. The big kids did quiet things…or outdoor things. I got actual work done for my actual paying job. I scheduled phone calls without wondering what my toddler would say at top volume at exactly the wrong moment. It was kind of nice being forced to rest—whatever that looked like. For an introvert, it looked a lot like sanity.
Plus, it’s been eight years—EIGHT—since my oldest was born, so frankly I have a hard time remembering what life looks like without a nap schedule. Was there life before the nap schedule? Oh my gosh….I’ve reached a new stage in parenting: The One Without Naps.
The hardest part is the realization that we don’t have babies in this house anymore. As much as this big kid stage with sports and chapter books and opinions is really fun, and even though, frankly, I’m not what you’d call a “baby person,” it’s sad to realize that we’re done with pacifiers, cribs, and daytime sleep schedules. We’re parents of big-ish kids now.
Just. Like. That.
I don’t know if we’ve had our last nap. Maybe we already have. A milestone like that should give you a heads up or something. Like, hey, this is your baby’s last nap, so grab your beverage of choice and enjoy the next hour, OK?
But no…one day she napped, and the next day she didn’t. Next week, she’ll probably start applying for college.
I’ve heard many parents call this new stage we’re in the “sweet spot” of parenting—the kids are older and more independent, but not yet to the angst and tumult stages of adolescence. It’s definitely fun and exciting, and I’m not exactly sad to be done crawling around on a dark floor at 2 am looking for a lost pacifier. But I’m not sure the word “sweet” tells the whole story.
I think “bittersweet” sums it up nicely.