Quiet Time

My children stopped napping at 2 ½.  All three of them thought that this was some sort of magic age at which they no longer needed naps.  This theory was obviously disproved by our traditional daily 5:00 melt-downs – just in time for daddy to walk in the door.   Needless to say, mommy still needed them to nap.  I needed that hour to regroup, take a breath and recharge for the rest of the day.  I don’t remember that I was incredibly productive during that time – just the floor cleared or dishes put away – but I felt like my body and spirit required that small break.  I remember once at a playgroup at the park, I mentioned that I was having trouble getting my son to nap.  Some other mom, obviously older and wiser, said, “Just make him sleep.  Just put him back in his bed and make him sleep.”  I was troubled by this – can we actually do that?  So I thought that I’d try. 

My son had a gate up over his door to try to make it more difficult to come out of his room when he was supposed to be blissfully sleeping.  So on the day of the “experiment,” I followed our normal naptime routine – turned down the shades, turned on soft music, read a book and tucked him into bed.  I stepped out of the room and into the bathroom across the hall so I could hide in the shadows and watch him.  For about 30 seconds, he lay there and my mind was spinning – is this really going to work??!  But that only lasted 30 seconds.  Then he proceeded to get out of bed, climb over his gate and start down the hallway.  I picked him up, stepped back over the gate, and tucked him back in bed, simply saying, “Naptime.”  The next time he lay in his bed for only 10 seconds.  We repeated the ritual again with the same result.  In fact I started counting.  I stepped over that gate to put him back into his bed seventy-five times!  Boy – did my thighs hurt later that day!!  So our experiment was completely unsuccessful, leaving both of us exhausted and frustrated.  I guess I gave up sooner than he did, but we spent the entire time allotted to the nap in this over-the-gate struggle.

After that, I instituted “Quiet Time,” which just meant that he could stay awake but had to play quietly in his room for an hour.  This resulted in all of his drawers being unloaded.  The closet toys were dumped everywhere.  Books were ripped.  Once I walked in to find him wearing all the clothes he could possibly get over his body.  Another time, he decided to make it more of a formal affair by putting on a hand-me-down tuxedo that he was going to wear for a wedding.  Really, calling it “Quiet Time” was laughable because he did everything but play quietly.

Now that he’s grown to the ripe old age of 11, I look back and laugh about trying to make him sleep.  And I wonder if God gets frustrated with us, trying to make us have some quiet time.

God knows that we need to still our hearts, to quiet down from the rush of the day – whether that means to drive in the car without the background noise of the radio, or leaving that text for another time, or just stepping into another room in the midst of all the crazy to whisper a quick prayer.  God could “make us” have that quiet time.  He could continue 75 times to infinity to put us into a quiet place, but we may never come to Him.  He can’t make us pray or spend time with Him.  But He can plant that burning desire in our hearts to attend an extra mass or stop by confession. He can inspire us to pray the rosary for a friend or stay up a few extra minutes reading the Bible.  He can call us to the quiet so that we may hear His voice.  Will we fight against God and continue to climb over the gate or will we rest in His presence, if only in spirit, to listen for His words of Love?

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