It’s naptime and they’re all actually napping. Each overlap — if and when it happens — feels like a victory these days, as the twins continue to work on dropping that nap altogether. But today they are scattered throughout the upper level of the house. Little boy sprawled out with a blanket half tangled around his body in the crib, big boy snuggled up under a plush comforter in the master bedroom, girl in the twins’ bedroom tucked up on a chair in a position that can’t possibly be comfortable for sitting, much less sleeping.
Once upon a time, this was the norm. I could carve out time and space during a guaranteed daily naptime. The twins even napped for a solid 2-3 hours every day, though that lasted for only a few blissful months before they turned two. They had never been good nappers before, so I knew exactly how lucky I was. I could spend an hour eating lunch and tidying up the house, tackle bigger projects like cleaning bathrooms or organizing a closet, and still have time to read, to write, to eat chocolate and rewatch Mad Men.
Adding baby #3 was the first challenge. I’ve almost always been lucky enough to have some naptime overlap (#blessed), but just how much was the question. It wasn’t so bad at first. Surprisingly enough, the sheer quantity of sleep during the early newborn days left me more time and space than I would have thought possible. That all changed as he grew and awoke to his world, and his 1 ½ hour nap habits haven’t left me room to do much else than eat lunch, tidy up the main level, and fold a load of laundry or two. Just as I would sit down he would awake, as though he were perfectly attuned to the exact moment I decided to rest.
The dropping of the nap is my newest challenge. Even though we attempt quiet time or a movie marathon, my body is still hyper-aware of the sounds of little people and voices in the background. I can work at a coffee shop with the low din of random background noise from strangers, but my own toddlers sniffling or wiggling on the couch — not to mention their endless stream of chatter and questions — absolutely does me in.
I’ve been taking more time away. It’s partly eased now that the demands of breastfeeding are gone. Erasing that duty alone gives me time and space. I escape the house I am so frequently in, those ever-present surroundings, and just get away. Weekend mornings, sometimes an afternoon or an evening. I have my coffee shop, my spot, and woe is me if I deviate from the familiarity. (Another coffee shop has left me clenching my jaw with rage as I have listened to...um...opinions just as I have settled in to write on not one, but two separate occasions. Apparently, the circle of overstuffed armchairs is where the far-right Republicans gather.)
I’ve set aside a space for myself, too. A spot where I can sit to write or read or go over our budget or peruse Amazon. We have the room now, in a corner of our bedroom. In our first apartment, a space so small that you could see it in its entirety by standing in one strategic spot in our “dining room”, my spot was at our “dining table” (aka the card table and chairs we used as a dining set). In our next apartment, I sat on the couch (upgraded from my college futon) or our new dining table from Target (upgraded from the card table) or even our bed (same old mattress and metal frame). Two (and a half) kids and a move over state lines later, and you still might find me sitting at our kitchen table to write (upgraded to one from an actual furniture store). But now I have my own little spot in a corner of our bedroom that I’ve been working on this year, adding things here and there. The framed canvas was a Christmas gift, the chair one for my birthday, an end table that was a brilliant Target find, a footstool that’s been repurposed from babies’ room to baby’s room to here. This is “mommy’s chair”, and everyone in the house knows it.
The thing is, this is a season, too. Three and a half years into parenting and there have been so many shifts and changes in our routine. I’ve been kicked out of my chair already during naptime, as the twins’ “quiet” time shenanigans led to Caden taking over our master bedroom.
I love my little spot. I have dreams of a desk of my own someday, once the basement is complete and we have a guest room that’s a true guest room, instead of the whole office/guest room combo we have going on that’s really anything but cozy for our guests. I don’t need much. I have my eye on a little Parsons desk with a narrow drawer, space for a laptop, a notebook, and a mug of coffee.
For now, this works. This is my spot, my space, my time. When I can find it, that is.