Around noon each day I climb in bed with my almost four-year old son, Colin, and we take a nap. There is ritual about it: washing hands, brushing teeth, pulling the curtain shut...the room-darkening fabric the curtains are lined with give it a cave-like feel. We get under the covers and as soon as my head hits the pillow he says, "Will you please hold me, mama?" I sling my arm out and he nestles in and says, "Tell me what we did today." After a few minutes of chit chat he declares, "hugs and kisses", I lay still and respond "Ok, hugs and kisses" and he says "NO, do it!" So we hug tight and smooch and I reclaim my arm by rolling away to commence napping.
Then his little fingers reach out and start touching my ear.
It sounds strange - it is strange - but when he stopped nursing at 16 months or so he started this ear thing. He prefers my ears, but will will fiddle with his own if he can't reach mine (like if we're in the car). Its his 'tell' when it comes to him being tired - he can't help himself. He has another thing he does when he's tired: he rubs the tips of my fingernails. He's much less discriminating on this one - any grown up with fingers around him when he gets tired is fair game. So after a bit of time fiddling with my ear at nap he'll say, "All done with your ears. Hand-y please." I toss my hand over my shoulder and he rubs/picks at my fingers for a few moments and then I hear "all done hand-y." After all of this, and lots exchanges of "I love you" we fall asleep. And we sleep and sleep. Never less than an hour and a half, but usually more like two and half to three hours, his knees in my back the entire time.
In case you can't tell, this is my favorite time of day. Since I have a 10 month old with big-time sleeping issues (up to nurse every 2-3 hours) I NEED the rest during the day, so that's one reason I love it. But more than that, I adore the simple, quiet time with Colin. It's our reset button, separately and together. All the pre and post lunch fussiness is forgiven after a good nap, and we have a fresh start. Because my husband has been off work since August, he has kept baby Toby during this afternoon nap ritual, so this has been the one time each day when Colin and I knew I wouldn't be called away to go do something with/for the baby. I was relieved to be 'off duty' and I think Colin has enjoyed having that time just for him and me.
BUT... my husband got a job in Dallas, and he leaves Sunday morning. The boys and I are planning to stay here in St Louis with my mother in law until school is out because I really don't want to pull Colin out of his preschool.* There are something like 50 school days left (he goes 4 days a week) and he is enjoying it so much and learning ... everything.
So, tomorrow is my last nap with Colin. At least the last one of this configuration. Baby Toby doesn't generally sleep at the same time as Colin, so I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to get him down for nap. I'll figure something out, and may ask for help on that here later, but for now I need to just get out in this post how sad I am that this precious time for Colin and me is almost over. I get that I have been SUPREMELY lucky to have had this opportunity all these years. I know many of you reading this would do anything to have the chance to nap everyday, let alone be snuggie with your wee one at the same time. I know its an extravagance. All the same, I'm going to miss it terribly.
*We'll see how long I can hold out. I've got lots of good reasons to stay, but a girl can only take so much.