Nap Guilt

Yesterday, after returning from a five day long trip which required leaving my wife at home with both kids, I took a nap.  Now before you call the police, I want you to know it was an accident. There was no premeditation involved, so at worst I’m guilty only of involuntary napping. I fell asleep with my coat on and the only thing more indicative of an unwitting snooze is dozing off while standing.

My wife was nice enough not to wake me up and say, “Um…no.” At the same time, she didn’t put a blanket on me, dim the lights or even hush the children. If I were to nap, I would have to do so within a hostile environment while clad in winter gear. I agree, it’s only fair. Nor was she particularly nurturing upon my waking. “Wow, I took a nap.” I said, innocently. From inside the blanket tent in which she was playing Candy Land with a three year-old wielding a flashlight, she responded with a monotone, “Yup, you did.” I wasn’t necessarily in trouble and no charges would be filed, but I was clearly indebted.

Furthering my defense of this heinously selfish act, you should know that we’d just returned from an exhausting visit to the Liberty Science Center where we crawled through 80 feet of dark tunnels and I ate a cheeseburger in 42 seconds. Plus, I was (and still am) on west coast time. Yes, technically it was only noon on the west coast but there’s this thing called jet lag, which at times can cause even the most dedicated and loving father to shirk his parenting responsibilities.

It’s actually amazing that I nap as infrequently as I do. Falling asleep is in my genes. Sure it’s in everyone’s genes, but in mine it plays a more prominent role. My most salient childhood memories are those of my father napping on our blue sofa in his underwear. He might have been wearing clothes but my brain has a tendency to take things from the past and punch them up a bit. My mother, by contrast, has never been seen lying down during the day. If I witnessed her in any such position, I would immediately call the paramedics. Like a normal person she sits, stands or walks until it’s bedtime, then she goes about a predictable routine and slips into a comfortable bed where she sleeps without moving until she wakes as if in a Lunesta commercial: happy, energetic and ready to tackle the day. So I’m a mix of that: part of me tries to sit and be alert when the sun is up, while another equally powerful element compels me to tilt my head back and snore like a cartoon character.

But oh what a tremendous dad I was after that nap. I’m not sure if it was driven by guilt or an hour of REM sleep, but I built forts, played indoor tag replete with “goofy running,” read Mac and Cheese books and even played a card game called “Slamwich”until well after 9pm. My wife took that opportunity to don her bedtime pants and practice Temple Run Brave on her iPhone.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

44 comments On Nap Guilt

  • I’ve always maintained that I have ‘Gravity Affective Disorder’ or GAD. I swear to Gd that gravity pulls harder on me than most, especially around 10a and 4p on days when my five kids are stuck at home.

  • Ok, I might not have covered you, either, in that scenario. But I am a NAPPER and PROUD OF IT.

  • i’m jealous of your napping abilities. naps just makes me feel like shit afterwards.

    • Me too! I call that a sleep hangover and it happens whenever I nap or accidentally sleep later than 7:30. Sucks SO much because the BF is a champion sleeper.

  • My wonderful husband lets me nap on the weekends while he watches the kids. I got a winner.

  • jessica @scienceofparenthood

    I was a horrible perpetrator of the hostile nap environment. Daddy’s sleeping… who wants to have a dance party?? Let’s find that singing Elmo doll! 11am is a great time for bongos!

    On the plus side, I didn’t rip his goddamn arms off when he fell asleep on the couch. Kindness.

    • Yup, you nailed it Jessica! When I’m feeling particularly passive/aggressive, I make some sort of half-assed attempt to stop my son from pestering a sleeping daddy on the couch, “no… don’t wake daddy…” but it’s only posturing. I’m saying it with smirk on my face, and inside I’m saying, “yes, B, I think daddy DOES want to be sneezed on with a mouthful of half-eaten goldfish, and WOULD like your finger up his nose.” I should note, I do nap during the day on weekends, but only when B is napping too, so I’m only a partial hypocrite.

      • You’re both still better people than me. I have been known to lay a screaming baby on Daddy’s chest while he’s napping.

        In my defense, I am a severe insomniac who sleeps maybe 4 hours a day, while he sleeps 8 hours a night, can fall asleep anywhere in under 90 seconds, and he does it EVERY DAY!!!

        • Preach it, sister. 4AM right now, wide awake. Himself is asleep like a log, as always. Baby scheduled to wake up in t minus 1.5 hours and counting…

        • Are we sister wives? My husband could fall asleep mid air in a tornado on the way to OZ. I require silence, no light, and half an hour of uninterrupted reading to settle my brain, and I wake up in a mouse farts in the house down the street. It isn’t fair, man. It just isn’t fair.

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