Today I needed to give myself a time-out. A long, sleep-filled time-out. I’ve developed a survival skill that allows me to evaluate when I need to ignore the dishes, laundry, gross bathroom sink and completely sticky floor, and TAKE A NAP! Because, I’ll be honest, when I’m tired, I’m no different than my 3 year old daughter: I get grumpy, short-tempered, and my anger and depression symptoms flare up. And a grumpy, short-tempered, angry, depressed mama is not a good mama.
So I took a nap, for as long as I could while my two children blissfully slept, simultaneously, during their afternoon nap. Granted it lasted only about 35 minutes, but it was better than nothing. AND, when a small hand tickled my foot and giggled, “Mommy, you need to wake up!”, I wasn’t unreasonably irritated.
Have you ever felt guilty about napping? I used to, all the time. There are so many other, better, more useful, more productive things I could be doing. Think of all the cool art projects or scrapbooks or baked goods I could make!! I could fold the clean-but-has -been-sitting-in-the-basket-for-3-days laundry! I could finally scrape off the splattered, bright pink nail polish off the wall, sand it, prime it, and paint it! Or… I could take a nap. And be a better mother.
It has taken me a stupidly long time to understand that one of the most important things I can do for my children is to take care of myself. What good is folded laundry if you’re sobbing while you fold it?
Napping is not a cure-all answer to “how to be a good mom.” But, for me, being tired can become a trigger for my depression, and my depression makes me unable to live in the moment and tolerate, let alone enjoy, my children. Dr. Deborah Serani, author of Living with Depression and regular cat-napper, says “Research shows how a nap can promote physical well-being, improve mood and memory, re-energize and sharpen senses.” (She also mentions that napping much longer than 30 minutes can have the opposite effect!)
I cannot stress what a big deal it is that I am finally able to recognize my symptoms and acknowledge and accept them for what they are: depression symptoms. They are not just “being moody” or “PMSing”. They are the tip of a very dark, very deep iceberg that can and will destroy anything and everything that comes near it. It is imperative that I kill them at the first sight; my survival as a mother and wife depends on it. So bring on the catnaps!!