Saturday, July 24, 2010

Angel of the Morning

There are not many decisions we've made as parents that have been easy. Some of the things that we fretted over long and hard at the beginning have now become no-brainers. Sleep is one of them.

When Violet was wee, well, wee-er than she is now, Shawn and I talked to death the pros and cons of how she should sleep, where she should sleep, when she should sleep. She got baths in lavender scented soap to calm her when she was up too late. I felt something like guilt when she slept in until 10am since I knew so many babies rouse before the sun.

Now at two and change, Violet sleeps as she always has, like Violet. She stays up late, she sleeps late, she likes to snuggle with her parents in bed, and she naps pretty well but not on any sort of rigid schedule. And it works for us. We are rested, Violet wakes up happy and ready for her day, as do we.

I never imagined we'd have a family bed, but the more I read, the more normal it seems. Baby mammals, from lions to deer to chimps, like to sleep in close proximity to one another for protection, for comfort and for socialization. No other mammal mother would put a baby to sleep in one nest and then go off to a separate nest of her own. It just wouldn't happen.

Our baby human seems to like it, too! She falls asleep most nights in her room, in her big girl bed, and then when she wakes, anywhere between 2 and 6 am, she calls for us and sleeps the rest of the night between me and Shawn. I'll be sad when our mornings don't start with this baby face cuddled next to us.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Anatomy of a Nap

There is no afternoon that is more perfect for a nap than another.

Two-thirty on a cold and dreary Tuesday gets top billing as a great time to curl up on the sofa because, really, what am I gonna miss? And that utterly forgettable Tuesday in February is a great time to snuggle in; grab a fleecy blanket, thaw a cold hand on a warm baby tummy, and wake up in the drear of 4:15 with the world outside looking exactly the same as it did when I shut my eyes. The winter hibernation doesn't require any shades to be drawn. The thin winter light isn't enough to keep anyone awake anyway. Actually, the low cloud deck is probably as effective as an OTC sleep aid for the insomniac.

That February nap has nothing on a summer nap, though. Unlike the February nap, when I grab the baby and head to bed because a) it's her arbitrary nap time, or b) I need to get something done without her meddling, or c) I thought it was 8:30pm because the sun never really came out, the summer nap is something we both earn. The summertime nap is earned through an early wake-up and a dip in the baby pool before a cup of coffee. A full-on chalk Monet on the driveway is proof that we've put in enough time to deserve a siesta. Throw in a game of ball, 20 minutes of swinging, an outdoor tuna sandwich picnic, and a lawn that's been saturated in bubbles, and 3:30 comes faster than I thought it could. I wipe the popsicled, sticky grass blades from our hands and legs and faces and head into the cool house for a well deserved rest.

I feel no guilt when I pull the black-out shades to close out the sun so we can dissolve into a snugly heap, undisturbed by the bright. The breeze occasionally whips the blinds open and the clacking of the shades on the window sill is the only nearby noise. The neighbor's mower and the chirping birds swirl like soft serve into the white noise that funds our sleep. Violet's sweaty head cuddles into my chest and I feel her warm shoulders, her moist forehead, smell her earthy, sunscreened babyness and I know that summer naps are my calling.

Whether I doze with her or leave her little, diaper-clad butt to be cooled by the ceiling fan's gentle breeze, it seems like these summertime naps are worth pausing everything for. Unlike the winter nap, where I sleep precisely because there is nothing to miss, the summer nap is an indulgence because of what we miss. The phone calls left unanswered, the dinner left unstarted, our pink skin untouched by the hottest rays of the sun.

Today marked the first day of my week and a half long "stay-cation" and I am looking forward to some summer naps with my two favorite Pierces.