For Christmas 2006 I was given possibly the softest, fluffiest, pale-pinkest bathrobe I have ever seen. When I put it on the morning after Christmas and walked out to the living room, my teenaged daughters burst into unison laughter. Never a good sign, having both of them laughing at me at once.
“You look like a pink marshmallow!” said one.
Now I’m not going to tell a lie and say it was entirely the robe that caused my shape to resemble a marshmallow. But since they’d never had one bad thing to say about my blue bathrobe, I chose to assume that at least part of the problem lay with the robe.
I walked back into the bedroom and looked at the box it had come in. Sure enough, there was the receipt. I thought about bringing it back. But somehow I couldn’t.
My mom, you see, had a bathrobe the exact same shade of pink when I was growing up. Hers was quilted and had a silk lining. She’d come out of the bedroom wrapped in its softness in the mornings. And in the afternoon, when religiously she took an hour-long nap, she used its silky softness as a throw so that she would not have to mess up the bed.
Mom is a mother of eight herself, five of whom were born between 1967 and 1973. She must have had years where she never slept a whole night. But each day she wisely decided to go lie down in the afternoon, to refresh and rejuvenate herself, almost always with a baby snuggled in by her side.
Even though there were so many of us, I have a hard time thinking of her being angry very often -- except for the times when I richly deserved it. I wonder if her naps had something to do with her unflappable calm.
I’m terrible napper myself. Naps leave me off balance, yawning till dinner and then owl-eyed at midnight. Besides, the instant my babies nod off, I bolt up and away, book or paintbrush or computer mouse or camera in hand, intent on using that precious hour or two for something not involving a baby.
I’m not as patient as my mom. Maybe if I chose napping over doing, resting over producing, maybe I’d be calmer too. And yet, somehow I think my way works for me. Though she and I choose different ways to use that afternoon time, we both got what we needed from it.
It’s important for a mom to somehow claim a tiny oasis of time each day. Maybe it’s napping under a pink robe with the baby every afternoon. Maybe it’s lying on the living room floor, flipping through a magazine and sharing your chocolate with the nearest kid. Maybe it is untangling yourself from your sleeping baby and running off to tap on a computer keyboard for half an hour. Maybe it’s sticking the baby in the stroller and walking fast enough for 20 minutes that your heart starts thumping.