The noise and chaos stops suddenly, replaced by murmured words of love and the quiet clicks of two doors shutting. It isn’t perfectly silent—someone is humming, someone is kicking their feet against the wall—but the rooms are echoey and I can hear far-off airplanes and it is different.

I type, furiously. I sit on the couch and move with the sunlight from one cushion to the next, shielding my screen from the glare.

When I’m done, if I get done, I move spacily around the house, picking things up, setting them down. I peer at myself in the mirror, pluck an errant eyebrow hair.

I think about little things that are going well: I’m on the fifth day of stopping a bad habit, the boys and I had a good school morning, I cleaned the floors yesterday and today they shine.

I think about how I still feel like I’m wearing this new life like a coat, how when someone recently asked me if I work I said “no” before correcting myself, and what the fuck is up with that?

I think, helplessly, about a day last week when Dylan was pitching an enormous howling tantrum in the car and I reached back and grabbed his leg while raising my voice at him and Riley said to me, “If you want him not to cry, you need to not hurt him, Mom,” and how despite the fact that it wasn’t exactly a fair thing to say I will still probably hear that sentence for the rest of my goddamned life.

The house is strange and poised, ready to spring back into its normal state of swirling distractions. Everything seems to hang, like a movie-effect of a life put on pause.

And then: over.


22 Responses to “Naptime”

  1. Janet in Miami on October 11th, 2010 2:17 pm

    >> how when someone recently asked me if I work I said “no” before correcting myself,<<

    Managing a household is a full time job. Running a family is a whole lot like running a business with budgeting, procurement, training, et al, with the end product being a sane productive well lived life.

  2. Emily on October 11th, 2010 2:27 pm

    Oh god, I can totally imagine my son saying this when I’m raising my voice to his baby sister: “If you want him not to cry, you need to not hurt him, Mom.” Like you say, not that it’s true, but that’s how he perceives it. And even just reading it, I will probably never forget that.

  3. Madeleine on October 11th, 2010 2:33 pm

    Janet – I agree, I agree, I agree

  4. GingerB on October 11th, 2010 2:40 pm

    I remember every time I grabbed a daughter to transport her to time out, and while I can honestly say I have never hurt my two year old (except banging her head into a doorway while walking through it, or dropping the hairbrush on her nose, etc.) I have squeezed the arm of my four year old to move her along or get her attention, and I think I might always remember those things with shame in the pit of my stomach. Hopefully she will always remember the loving touches more. You are not alone, Linda. Not, not, not alone.

  5. Melissa on October 11th, 2010 3:14 pm

    Definitely not alone. Worded so perfectly.

  6. Eric's Mommy on October 11th, 2010 3:32 pm


  7. melanie on October 11th, 2010 4:06 pm

    I am 5 years into this staying at home gig, and while so much of it is rewarding, I find myself a bit lost. I wouldn’t do anything different, I am staying home until both my kiddos are in full time school (and then I am hoping to find a part-time job so I am still there before and after)… but it can be exhausting be “on the job” 24/7. I think that is probably why I love reading blogs (even though I have never had the courage to start my own)…. its my connection to other adults, and it helps me to feel like I am not alone. Its hard work no matter the situation…

  8. Stacey on October 11th, 2010 7:23 pm

    It’s like we are living parallel lives! The thought went through my head today, “Oh freaking heavens, what am I going to do when these kids don’t take naps anymore?”

  9. sooboo on October 11th, 2010 9:10 pm

    That Riley is a real drama king! When people ask you what you do, I hope you say “writer bishes”!

  10. Melissa on October 11th, 2010 9:46 pm

    Rarely did we administer spankings at my house. Those were reserved for things like running out into traffic and how the f— did you manage to get to the bleach? But one time I lost my temper and turned my son over my knee. I had my hand up in the air and I was screaming like a banshee, and just as I was about to drive the lesson home I looked down at his tiny little hands covering his palm sized bottom and heard him cry desperately “Please, Momma! Please! I need go in time out!” He hasn’t had a spanking since. Yep. Helpless is how I feel every time I remember that moment. It, too, will haunt me the rest of my life. How to such tiny creatures have the ability to drive us to that point?

  11. Alyssa on October 12th, 2010 6:24 am

    I know the nap time quiet so well. I love those two hours (if I’m lucky) but I always seem to kind of not know what to do. There’s so much, where should I start! The other day my 3.5 yr old son scolded me when I got frustrated with my 1 yr old. “He’s just a baby mom!”. I felt terrible.

  12. Stephanie on October 12th, 2010 7:00 am

    I am by no means a crazy political correctness person, but I really do not like the terms “full-time mom” and “working mom.” The former implies that those of us who work outside the home are somehow “part-time” moms, and the latter implies that those of us who stay home do not work. Both implications are total bullshit! Bravo to you, Linda, for being open and honest about the challenges and the wonders of transitioning from a mom who works outside the home, to a mom who stays home with the kids full time.

  13. Julia on October 12th, 2010 8:34 am

    @Stephanie — I totally agree with you. when I worked, I learned to say “I’m a full time mother with an additional job”. One (former) friend said I was not a full time mom because my kids ate lunch at their childcare center. really? that’s what it’s all about? the feeding thing?

  14. Marci on October 12th, 2010 9:16 am

    thank you. I needed that today.

  15. Em on October 12th, 2010 11:18 am

    I am leaving my job at the end of November to work from home (photography) so I can spend more time with our daughter. I’m really looking forward to spending more time with her, and hoping I don’t screw her up in the process!!

  16. Lawyerish on October 12th, 2010 12:04 pm

    Lovely writing. Just lovely.

  17. Sarah on October 12th, 2010 12:46 pm

    Beautiful post. When the hosue goes to sleep here I feel the same way. Until then it’s just total chaos everywhere.

  18. Susie on October 12th, 2010 12:52 pm

    Bravo Stephanie — well said!!

    And Linda, I totally know what you mean — those nap times are precious for getting things done and yet, they still somehow leave me feeling somewhat adrift. And p.s., my son is only six months old and I already have a couple moments that haunt me…god, parenting is so effing hard.

  19. Stephanie on October 12th, 2010 2:04 pm

    Thanks for the affirmations, ladies. I could go on and on and on about what I call the “Mommy Cult.” I always appreciate it when women can be open and supportive even of people who have dramatically different lifestyles, and when women aren’t afraid to talk openly about our mistakes and flaws, as well as our triumphs. We are all working moms, and we are all full-time moms…and we all screw shit up every day. :)

  20. Brigid on October 12th, 2010 6:52 pm

    “Mom, you taught me how to yell.” Yeah, that hurts. But I also taught her how to hug and how to love. And that is what I hold on to.

  21. annef on October 13th, 2010 2:46 am

    just reading this in my naptime break :))) so true… guilty website reading pleasure over back to figuring out what’s for lunch

  22. Joe on October 25th, 2010 10:39 pm

    There should be an award for synchronizing naps between 2 or more children! All these little victories of parenthood go under- or unappreciated.

    (BTW I’m a stay at home dad of a 2.9 year old and a .9 year old.)

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