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Why The Napping Soccer Mom Is Our New Muse

You’re not tired; you’re tireless, and you’ve earned some rest.

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Agnes Lee
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When Glennon Doyle, a 41-year-old blogger and author, recently uploaded a photo of a mother sleeping with a blanket over her head at her kid’s soccer scrimmage, with the tagline “MY NEW HERO,” a stampede of likes and shares (nearing a quarter-million, combined) were joined by comments praising this “Sideline Mom Out of Effs to Give.” Women commiserated with one another online, recounting times they, too, have conked out in public: at a circus; at a Super Bowl party; during a son’s occupational therapy session. It made me think of a recent outing to see Junie B. Jones with about six other mothers and their kids. At various points throughout the play, I noticed at least half of my friends doing the bobblehead nod-off … myself included. (Seriously, I couldn’t recall the plot line if you paid me.)

Mommin’ While Tired is nothing new. Fatigue is the default state of new parenthood; the rest ain’t much easier. The years may be short, but the days can feel groundhog-like. Combine that with the fact that 70 percent of mothers with children under age 18 participate in the workforce, more than 75 percent of them doing so full time. A recent study commissioned by Welch Foods found that if you were to combine the hours the average working mom spends at her paid position with her duty at home, the total would hover around 98 hours per week.

But what seemed so refreshing about this post was that — with the exception of one woman who tsk-tsked that she can work full time and bake cakes from scratch on the side and still show up, fully awake for her three kids’ sports games — the majority of commenters were supportive and the mom-on-mom guilt was really nowhere to be seen. Maybe that's because we’ve been there. We’ve stayed up all night with puking kids. We’ve held our breath, waiting for our teenager to come home safe and sound from her date. We’ve found ourselves packing lunches and signing permission slips at 9 p.m., then spent another hour prepping ourselves for the next day. We’ve dragged our butts to yoga and passed out in savasana.

Look: We don’t know the sleeping soccer mom’s backstory. Maybe she’s a single mom who just worked the night shift; maybe she’s getting over the flu; maybe she’s been marching for gender equality all year long and just needed a frigging break. Regardless, she is our new muse. She brings us comfort. One woman suggested making mom-napping the new Ice Bucket Challenge: We each have a partner or friend photograph us napping in an odd location and post it “to raise money and awareness of maternity leave, child-free vacations, inflatable neck pillows and [sports] games where parental support and supervision are not required.”

I’d like to take that one step further and approach Shark Tank with an idea for a chain of movie theaters that come outfitted with cots, so parents can doze while their kid catches the latest Disney offering. Seriously, who among us wouldn’t pay an extra $10 for that?

Karen Brody, author of Daring to Rest: Reclaim Your Power with Yoga Nidra Rest Meditation, isn’t surprised the image went viral. “Our nervous systems are shot from the pressure of having so many things to show up for: We show up for work; if we have our partner, we show up for our relationship; we show up to make dinner; we show up to all of our kids’ activities.” The nap has become a punch line of sorts, she says, in that women joke about how badly we need one, but so many of us are unable to grant ourselves permission to do so. “Wanting to nap,” Brody says, “is our deep, dark secret.”

So stop feeling shame over catching a quick siesta in the car while waiting for kindergarten to let out. Stop feeling embarrassed when it’s taking every ounce of energy in your entire being to stay awake in that interminable work meeting. It’s OK. You’re not tired; you’re tireless, and you’ve earned some rest.