Today’s First Draft Father post is a guest post by blogger, writer, and stay at home dad Sonny Lemmons. He shares a story that I can relate to far more often than I’d like to admit.
After three-plus years of being a full-time stay-at-home dad, I think I’ve learned a little bit about parenting. Factor in the writing (both paid and out of love) that I do on the side, the speaking I do at churches in the area, the day-to-day responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, and – oh, yeah – not completely ignoring my wife, and I’d say I’ve also learned a little bit about time management.
And I’ve learned a lot about sleep deprivation.
One of the many things Ed and I, as two of the finest SAHDs in the world, have commiserated on surrounds naps. Although we are on opposite ends of the nap spectrum since Ethan is still in multiple-hours-per-day snore mode and Kai is slowly transitioning out of the need of actually taking one, we both appreciate them. Deeply. They serve as a chance for quiet wherein which we can write.
They’re an opportunity for us to do something for ourselves with no tagalong vying for our attention – for example, like going to the bathroom alone. And if nothing else, they let us be able to have a moment to catch our breath.
When my son decides to fight this blissful opportunity for rest, I get frustrated, even annoyed at times. I, as the learned and wise adult, understand the necessity that sleep is to a growing body. Cognitively, I get his "logic:" he thinks I’m going to do something amazingly cool (like marinating chicken breasts) that he will miss out on if he sleeps, or he is convinced we have to have one more Hot Wheels race in his room.
But emotionally, it’s another story completely. I feel my blood pressure rising as he struggles to sit still while I read to him. I feel (more) wrinkles and stress lines forming on my face when he wakes up after only sleeping for 45 minutes and then proceeds to cry due to exhaustion for the next twenty minutes. While I want him, for his sake, to get the rest he requires, I have also come to hold this oasis in the day as something beautiful. Something sacred.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but at times, it’s as much about me wanting him to take a break as it is me needing to take a break from him. There have been several occurrences when I’ve had to stop and check myself and my attitude. Am I getting annoyed because he’s not getting his rest, or because I’m not getting mine? Do see his nap as something important for him, or for me?
Am I holding up this time as something holy for him, or as something I idolize?
And yeah – when God hits me with that insight, my heart can’t help but stop and catch itself. Time and again.
Sometimes all it does take is one more car race around the room, one more battle between the forces of good (knights) and evil (dinosaurs), or just a few minutes of "journaling" via crayon for Kai to be still, get in a place where his body catches up with his emotions, and suddenly he’s in the right mindset to be able to nap. And I’m right there next to him – with car, Ankylosaurus, or crayon in hand – quieting my own mind and soul in order to be able to appreciate the waking time we have together.
If nothing else, I need to remember that just like God has His own timing in mind for things in my life (see also: literary agent, lack thereof; publisher interest, lack thereof), the time for when Kai’s nap is to happen will come. It might not be when I want it, but instead it will be when he needs it. I need to not try and rush it out of my own wants and desires.
Besides, sometimes having company in the bathroom is nice.
About Today’s Guest Blogger
Sonny Lemmons is a husband. Stay at home dad. Imperfect follower of a perfect God.
In what I laughably call my "spare time," I write: I have worked for both Thomas-Nelson and LifeWay Publishing, I have been a contributing author to the anthology series The Myth of Mr. Mom (Portmanteau Press, 2011), Not Afraid: Stories of Finding Significance (Civitas Press, forthcoming) and Finding Church (Civitas Press, forthcoming), and I have also written for Provoketive.com, ProdigalMagazine.com, and ChurchLeaders.com.
I worked in Student Affairs (mainly Residence Life/Housing) from 1994-2009 before I chunked it to be a stay at home parent.