I remember sometime in graduate school reading Joseph Epstein’s essay, “The Art of the Nap.” I don’t remember much about it except that it seemed to offer an argument about the benefits of napping (who could argue with that) and then went into detail how best to nap. If I remember correctly the characterization of a perfect nap included sleeping on a couch or comfortable chair, never in a bed, taking off of one’s shoes, but not clothes, and never longer than twenty minutes. Since becoming a mother I have found another benefit to nap-taking.
A moment of peace.
Jane, the youngest of my children and therefore the one most likely to nap, has given up the practice of napping long ago. It seemed that for so many years I cleared a schedule for a baby to nap that I can’t, however impractical it is, give up those precious hours. So we are home, every afternoon for what I stubbornly continue to call “naptime,” even though we haven’t had consistent naps for years. Lily and Canyon roll their eyes in the summertime when we are grounded from all other social activities each afternoon for our ‘quiet time.’ We read or play quietly. Even outside play is sanctioned. But, there are no errands, no exhausting trips to the pool, park or library—we reserve those for morning or late afternoon. And even though I never, ever take a nap of my own, I just revel in a quiet time that is only slightly quieter than the rest of my day.
But occasionally on a very rare day, I find myself alone, in the afternoon, with Jane. And on an even rarer occasion of these days—she takes a nap.
And it is, once again, quiet.