Nap Time – One Mother’s Story of Survival

Study of a Sleeping Child

It's a beautiful thing

I had five children in less than eight years.  That’s over four years of being pregnant. That’s one or two in diapers for 10 years.  I used to joke that if you were born into my family, you took a daily nap from 1:00-3:00pm.  I really wasn’t joking – the nap was my life line.

Parents often comment that their little darling gave up their nap when they were two.

I usually smile sweetly and think, “That’s when you gave up their nap… not them.”

I have yet to meet a two-year-old who isn’t much improved by a daily nap.  Try this sociological study.  Take a trip to the local shopping mall any day at 2:00 in the afternoon.  I guarantee you will see at least one glassy-eyed screaming toddler accompanied by an exhausted and frustrated mother. Every one of my two or three-year-old kiddos bucked the nap rule at least once.  One little guy, my chief testing engineer, got up to wander the house every day for a week; needing a snack, a drink, to see what I was doing, etc… Don’t be fooled parents! They still need a nap.  Outlast them.  It’s for their benefit, not just your own.  It’s really good for a child to learn early that “just ’cause they feel it, don’t make it so.”   An excellent life lesson – easily taught when they are knee-high.  Not so easy when they are teens.

I had some selfish reasons for wanting this nap.  I was TIRED!! It’s hard work parenting little people, especially when pregnant.  Some days my date with the couch lasted 2 straight hours.

By the time the older ones really outgrew their naps, around five, they were in such a daily habit that we transitioned from sleeping to “alone reading” or art time, while the younger ones slept.   My kids shared rooms; three boys in one room and two girls in the other. Trying to entice your brother to join you in your “alone” time was not included in the rules.  You can guess who tested this rule … many times.

The best benefit of nap time?  My children had a happy mother for the other eleven hours of their day.

One Hour

“Does one hour really matter?”

I asked myself this question as I sat in a hard plastic chair, feeding little Stephen his morning bottle.  He weighed about 8 pounds, smaller than my own boys were at birth, yet he was 7 months old.  Every few minutes, he pulled away from his bottle to smile at me.  His sucking reflex was so weak; he hardly took any formula.  Tears came to my eyes.

“What good can I possibly do?”  I reasoned as held his tiny form.

Stephen would be in an Infant Feeding Center in Guatemala City tomorrow, the next day and the next. If he got strong enough, he could go back to his family where, most likely, he would again receive poor nutrition.  It was a cycle that unfortunately runs over and over in this, and many other impoverished nations.

Again I questioned, “Can I actually make a difference in just one hour?”

I sat undone by this baby and wrestled with feelings of uselessness.  There were 30 babies in this center.  Stephen’s twin was crying from the next crib.  Some of the babies showed obvious signs of brain damage, due to neglect.  In all likelihood, some wouldn’t survive.

I asked God, “Is it really worth it?  Am I going to change anything in such a short amount of time?”

The teens in our group laughed while they wheeled little ones up and down the hallways.  The babies loved the attention.  Two weary Guatemalan women gratefully handed over infants to be held.  I looked again at Stephen and he smiled.  With a huge lump in my throat, I swallowed my tears, smiled back at him and gave him a little tickle.  I told him he was a silly guy and he better start drinking his bottle.  He went back to sucking, eyes glued on my face.

I then took a shaky breath and prayed.  I prayed for Stephen’s life now, and I prayed for his future.  I prayed for his parents and his siblings.  When he finally drank the last from his bottle, I hugged him and laid him in his crib. He smiled. A few cribs down, another little one waited for his bottle.

That was three years ago.  I have no way of knowing if Stephen is a healthy three-year-old. If he lives, he is unaware of the woman in Minnesota who loves and prays for him. But, I have answered my questions.

One hour matters.

One hour makes a difference.

It is worth it.

I am changed.