“All I want to do,” my friend Julie told me last week, “is to be able to sleep in, in the morning, again.” Julie has two girls, one age three years and the other three months.
The older one still has afternoon naps but, from what I gather, their nap times don’t regularly coincide and so she doesn’t often get to take advantage of the downtime with a nap of her own.
Listening to her describe her experience brought back to me the dark, sleep-deprived time I had after my own daughter was born.
It was just before her arrival that my then-two-year-old son quit napping altogether. That meant that, in addition to being woken three or four times a night, I was unable to catch up on sleep while the baby slept, like I did after my son was born. Fantasizing that there might be a day when I would be able to sleep through the night until at least 7 a.m. (and Hallelujah that day has come!) helped get me through.
Julie’s fantasy is a day when both girls are old enough to go to summer camp and she will have a whole week to spend in bed, if she so desires. I’m all about living in the moment as much as possible, but I have to admit that sometimes anticipating what it might be like in the future – whether or not it’s realistic – can be The thing that gets you through the tough stages.
It’s like the parent version of the song My Favourite Things. Except, instead of “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,” it’s the thought of going to the bathroom, just once, without one kid or the other banging on the door while another one lies kicking and screaming on the floor, that helps you weather the storms.
So, while I love my children and adore spending time with them, I have compiled a list of things that I long to do someday when they are more independent.
- Go on a long, Sunday morning bike ride, by myself, to a café or eatery across town, buy myself some breakfast and a bottomless cup of coffee, and spend two hours pouring over my favourite newspaper.
- Take an entire morning – or a whole day – to flit from specialty boutique shop to specialty boutique shop, without warning anyone to keep their hands behind their backs every two seconds, and maybe even making a purchase or two with money that once funded diapers.
- Go on a humanitarian trip to a country I’ve never been to (preferably with family in tow, once they are old enough) to help fill a need for a community of people.
- Be able to cook my favourite dishes on a regular basis without having to prepare a back-up because they are too (pick one) spicy, crunchy, mushroomy, tomatoey, sticky or strange.
- Be able to buy a fine piece of furniture and put it out on display without fear that it will be scratched or broken or coloured on.
I know that, technically, I could find a way to do many of these things right now but – and this is essential – I look forward to the day when I can do them without the guilty feeling that someone is either in the way or has been left behind or neglected in favour of my own selfish pursuits.
I don’t want to rush things. I know we’ll get there when we get there, and I make a deliberate attempt to find something to enjoy in every step along the way. But on the more challenging days, it sure is nice to have an attractive ideal to escape to – even if it’s still a few years away.
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