Toddlers and naps: The waking is the hardest part

I spend a decent part of my day dreaming of what it would be like to take a nap. When you have kids, mornings come too early. Either the kids jump on your face to wake you, or you get up a little early to steal some alone time.

No matter what you do during the day, you’ll be exhausted. Work is tiring, chasing kids is tiring, exercise is tiring. Being an adult is just exhausting.

There are some mornings I contemplate calling a babysitter.

“Hey, so-and-so, it’s Kate. Are you free to watch the kids today? No, I don’t have an emergency or anything. I just really want to nap.”

But, like most adults, I soldier on, operating on less sleep than the general recommendation, a short sleep that is nearly always interrupted by a child who needs a drink of water and felt the need to wake me up so I can get it even though I put the cup right by his bed and said, “Here is your water so you don’t have to wake me up.”

I so desperately want a nap some days that it may be starting to cause some resentment between my 3-year-old daughter and me. She no longer takes regular naps, but sometimes she will fall asleep in the car or while sitting at the table mid-PB&J. I’ll carry her to her room, put her in her bed and stare longingly at her, wishing we could trade places.

I then return downstairs to play with my son and to enjoy the next hour or so, because I know what’s coming:

The waking up.

The terrifying hell of a toddler waking up from nap she didn’t expect to get.

Do you know what I would be like if I could take a nap for an hour? I would wake up singing! I would seriously morph into a cartoon and slide down rainbows with a smile so bright it could replace the sun. If I fell asleep in the car on the way home from picking up my son from school – provided that I wasn’t at the wheel – I would wake up so refreshed and so happy that I actually got some sleep! Look at me! I’m bouncing and energized and ready to take on the rest of the day!

But a 3-year-old waking up from a nap? Opposite. So opposite.

That screaming child sets aside the fact that she has been in a blissful snooze for two hours and instead focuses on making sure that Mommy knows that there is NOTHING she can do to get her to calm down.

“Want an applesauce pouch?” I sweetly ask.

“NO!!!” she shouts, red-faced and tears streaming.

“How about I put on a show?”

“Noooooooooo!” she wails.

“Want me to just hold you, sweetheart?”

Her head turns all the way around, “Exorcist”-style, she curses, and then she vomits on me.

Well, not really, but it may as well happen because my last question has pushed her so far over the edge that she is now on the ground yelling something at me that is completely intelligible.

“You want to ride in a car with Vin Diesel? Oh, you want to watch the show with the silly weasel? You’re secretly in love with that von Trapp kid, Liesl? Please, child, just take a breath, calm down and tell me what you want.”

“Blargin fir dar enda beezul!” she screams.

I throw my hands in the air, throw myself on the couch and throw my own silent mental tantrum.

After 20 or so minutes, she stops crying and curls into my lap. I stroke her sweaty hair, kiss her head and whisper, “Yes, I know, it must be so hard taking a nap.”

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