(Some vintage Snarky about using church as my not so final resting place.)
The best sleep I’ve ever experienced happened at church about 10 years ago. It was a legendary yummy, cozy snooze. I was out as soon as my head hit the mini-van headrest. No, I wasn’t at a drive-in church. Do they have those? If not, I’m telling you that’s a good idea. I was in the church parking lot, which I found makes an optimum place to nap. I discovered this quite by accident on a breezy fall Sunday morning. Because I’m an idiot of the highest order I had told a friend I would help her out in the church nursery. Yes, indeed, when your own children are making you consider abandonment the best course of action is to, of course, volunteer to take on the care giver responsibility for more screaming kids.
The church I was graciously doing nursery duty at was not my “home” church. And by home I mean the church where I got married and the kids got baptized and where when Christian duty and/or guilt kicked in I would drag myself out of bed and attend on limited occasions. This was a super sized church. I’m talking their own Starbucks in the lobby big. Well, it wasn’t really a Starbuck’s – it was a churchy version of Starbucks called “Sacred Grounds” featuring heavenly blends. My best description of the church is that it was a cross between a J.C Penny’s distribution center and an airline check in terminal. It was massive and it turned out that made it a perfect place for grabbing some shut-eye.
I arrived at the super church with my two children. One was just four, the other five months old and I was so over being a mother. Reality was not living up to the hype. Talk about false advertising. Where were my Kodak moments? I sign them in to their Sunday school “classes” and in exchange for handing over my children I receive what looks like a pager from the Olive Garden. (I was tempted to ask for extra breadsticks.) It would light up and flash if my children needed me. I then went to the nursery to listen to other babies beside my own howl. When I arrived my friend told me they had enough hands and I was free to go to church and not help out. Excellent. Before heading to the sanctuary I dashed to my car to get a sweater, because the church was freezing. Well, that trip to my car turned out to be a very bad thing. It made me have un-God like thoughts like skipping church.
What if I didn’t go back in the church? I asked myself. What if I just sat here? Who would it hurt, you know in the big picture of it all? Not me because I would be getting one entire hour of silence. I had the Olive Garden pager if my kids needed me and who would miss me? The church is huge. There are three freaking sanctuaries. One for traditional worship. One for contemporary and one with a rock-climbing wall for what I guess must be for getting an elevated Jesus epiphany. No one would even know. Dear Lord in heaven, I could actually close my eyes and sleep. I needed sleep – badly. What to do, what to do? I decided to pray about it to see if God would give me a sign. And he did. I looked over and saw a beach towel in the back car seat. It could be used as a blanket. The Lord wants to me stay here and nap.
As the bible says, “judge not lest ye be judged”. I was a woman on the verge of a breakdown. My five month old never slept. Yes, perfect parents out there, I know it was my fault my daughter never slept. In my defense – I am a wuss and my husband is a wuss to infinity and beyond. We can’t stand to hear babies cry. We tried it all. We Ferbered. (The method where you let your baby cry until they puncture a lung or fall asleep – whichever comes first? The Ferber Method can also be found in Hitler’s Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.) We bought the sleep baby postioner. We massaged. We perfumed the room with calming lavender. We ran a white noise machine with the soothing sound of ocean waves and when that didn’t work the subtle sound stylings of spring rain. Basically, the nursery was turned into a five-star spa and the kid still didn’t sleep.
I have my theories on why she resisted any attempt to close her eyes. She already hated me and at five months she couldn’t figure out how to waterboard, but she sure knew all about the abuse of sleep deprivation. The Center for Victims of Torture say 96 hours of sleep deprivation is considered torture. Even the CIA got busted for keeping alleged terrorists awake for up to four days. Pussies. Try five months. That’s 3,600 hours of not sleeping. Besides affecting my mental health the lack of beauty rest was really doing a number of my appearance. I was one step away from looking like a Wal-Mart greeter. I was using concealer they sell to burn victims in an attempt to disguise my under eye circles. My other, much more flattering, theory is that I am such an entertaining, intriguing individual that my daughter didn’t want to close her eyes in fear that she might miss one minute of my fabulousness. I know, I know, it’s the first theory. She was torturing me.
Now, that I had been directed by the Lord to stay in the mini-van and nap my biggest problem was how to nap incognito. I didn’t want anyone to see me in the driver’s seat with my mouth open, slobber slithering down the window and come and ask me if I needed help. I had to be the stealth napper. Well, praise the lord again because the mini van has tinted side windows and seats that fold down – way down and let’s not forget the beach towel as blanket. Mighty comfy. I set my cell phone alarm so I don’t oversleep and I’m out.
Best 55 minutes of sleep ever. I awake slightly refreshed and go retrieve my kids. My friend asks me what I thought of the sermon. Not wanting to lie while standing inside the Almighty’s house I hedge my bets and reply, “It was surprisingly restful.”
“Restful,” she says sounding confused.
I stutter and add, “You know, like a restful spirit came over me.”
“Oh yeah,” she says while smiling. “I get that.”
Next Sunday, rolls around and I pack up those kids and head to church. While I’m standing outside the Sunday school rooms to sign in my cry babies I hear some moms talking about bible study right after church. I interrupt and ask,“ Is there child care for the bible study?” Blessed be to God, there is. That gives me two hours of sweet, sweet, slumber. I hand off my children, inform the staff I would be staying for bible study and head out to the mini-van. Just in case anyone was watching I first went to the ladies room and then did a zig zag spy pattern through the parking lot.
This time it was even better. I had brought a pillow from home and some of that lavender spray from my daughter’s room to disguise the odor of fermented French fries and feet. I wake up 1 hour and 55 minutes later, check my face in the rear view mirror, wipe the drool off my chin and then oh crap. I have pillow marks on the left side of my face. How I’m I going to explain that? I doubt they have pillows in bible study. I start massaging and then slapping my face to get the marks off. It just makes it worse. Now, I have magenta colored slap lines and pillow marks on my face. I go back into the church to pick up my kids with my hair hanging way over one side of my face to cover the pillow/slap marks. I’m thinking I might be able to pass it off as the new sexy me. Wrong, I catch my reflection in a window and I look like H.R. Pufnstuff after a bad meth bender. Thankfully no one says anything about my new “do” and I get my kids and head home one rested mom.
The following Sunday, I hit the trifecta or should I say the Holy Trinity. I found out that you could go to Adult Sunday School at 9, Church at 10 and then Bible Study at 11. Childcare was provided for all of the above. That’s three hours, three whole hours of mini van naptime. Many of you maybe thinking right about now that I’m a big Loser (note that I spelled loser with a capitol L). You’re thinking, hey Loser what about daycare or mother’s day out programs? Why do you have to nap on God’s time?
Here’s the beauty of the church nap – you can’t leave the premises. Once you drive out of the parking lot the Olive Garden pager doesn’t work. Why is that so great? It’s great because that means there is nothing else for you to do. Let me explain further. If your kids are in daycare that means you are at work. Okay, so you can nap at work – a little. Come on, who here hasn’t had some work related shut-eye. My favorite is staring at the computer screen with your eyes closed, head tilted slightly forward. The way to get away with this is to also have a book and/or papers on your desk in front of you so anyone walking by will think you’re reading and writing while experiencing deep billable hours thoughts. But, you can’t really rack out at the office. You never reach the deep REM sleep you need because a part of your brain is on high alert for the boss. If you’re at home full-time with a non-sleeping baby and the child is in some sort of “morning” program you are still seriously screwed in the nap department. The few shorts hours you are baby free turns into a tsunami of errands, laundry and housecleaning. There is no time for night, night but at the church you can’t leave. This means you go to worship or to the mini-van. I choose mini-van and no worries because each Sunday I was making a very nice cash offering to the church in a valiant effort to convince myself I wasn’t a member of Satan’s extended family.
There were more upsides to the church nap. All my church “attendance” was making my husband look bad and really what spouse doesn’t strive to make their “better” half look bad. Here I was taking my children to church for three hours every Sunday, while he stayed home to “catch up” on work. I was getting sleep and getting to be sanctimonious. Oh, how I enjoyed getting on my high horse and throwing out verbal tidbits like, “Well, if you went to church you might feel better” or “today’s sermon really spoke to me. I’m so sorry you missed it.” That’s where I went wrong. My moral superiority and out right lying – bit me right in the butt.
One Sunday, it all came crashing down. My husband was up, dressed and ready for church. He wanted to surprise me and have us all go to church as a family. I was busted. “Great!” I say trying to hide my disappointment. I start giving myself a pep talk in my head. Okay, I tell myself, suggest that we might need to take two cars so he doesn’t have to stay for bible study that will grab me an hour of sleep at least. Even better, tell him you need him to stay here and do stuff around the house while the kids won’t be in the way. Nothing works the man is hell-bent to go to church for three whole hours.
As soon as we drop the kids off at Sunday school it gets awkward. Remember, I have never even been to any of the three sanctuaries and I couldn’t find where they meet for adult Sunday school or bible study without GPS. Never mind that no one has ever seen me before in Sunday school or bible study. I have no choice, but to confess my sins. I tell my husband we need to ditch church and go out to the mini-van to talk. Sweet, naive man that he is, thinks I’m not feeling well. “I look pale,” he says.
We slid into the van; I look fondly at my pillow and beach towel in the back seat, take a big breath and tell him the truth. “Honey,” I say. “I really miss our old church. Would you mind very much if we got the kids and tried to make the 10 o’clock service?” He didn’t mind one bit. We turned in our Olive Garden pager, got our kids and headed across town to our little, one sanctuary church. I used the time to bid farewell to my Sunday morning mini-van worship and pray for my mortal soul so that one day I don’t spontaneously combust into flames on my way straight to hell.
***For all things wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find the new winter Snarky line of clothing and accessories. (Flannel Snarky P.J.’s anyone?) Plus, there’s my book – Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. (Click here for purchase information.) Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good. Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival. If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.