Sign Of the Times

Well, this was a big day.

For eleven and a half years, there has been a sign taped over my doorbell:

Baby sleeping, please knock.

The words haven’t changed, though the actual sign has.  When it was just me and that little peanut of a first baby, I’m pretty sure the signed was carefully hand-drawn, decorated with scrapbook paper and laminated.

When I had three children under the age of four, I believe it was scrawled desperately under a Post-It note.  (And there might have even been a post-script in those days:  Please! I beg you! Be merciful unto me, a young mother whose shirt smells permanently of breast milk.  They’re sleeping all at once and I am so exhausted and if you ring the doorbell you will wake them all up I will have to beat you to death with the FedEx package you’re so kindly dropping by.)

Whatever its form, the little sign has had a place of prominence on my front door for over a decade. There has been no gap in nap-takers in our home since 1997. 

Until now.

Corrie dropped her nap months ago, though I hadn’t yet taken down my little sign.  This is due partly due to my own forgetfulness, partly to due to an irrational hope that her nap (please!) might suddenly reappear, and partly due to my reluctuance to admit the end of the baby/toddlerhood era in the Dryer house. 

But honesty must prevail, and this afternoon I stepped outside to pull down my little sign. 

No more sleeping babies. 

I breathe a sigh of relief and a sigh of wistfulness, all at the same time. 

78 thoughts on “Sign Of the Times

  1. seesawstar says:

    Wow to your decorated laminated sign – I’m only on my first and the best we’ve been able to manage is a mound of duct-tape over the doorbell and scribbles of “KNOCK ONLY” on the tape.
    Granted, it doesn’t do any good considering any slightest knock sets the dogs off. Maybe I should trade my duct-tape in for one of those baby play-pens and just pen off my front door with a sign that says “BABY (and dogs) SLEEPING – DON’T COME WITHIN 5 FEET OF DOOR.”

  2. Carrie says:

    I too have had that sign for almost 6 years now and I envision at least another one – however mine says, “DO NOT RING DOORBELL AND DO NOT KNOCK UNLESS YOU WANT TO BABYSIT A CRANKY BABY!
    I do take the sign down when kids aren’t sleeping though – I really am not that grumpy – just understand how precious nap time is! 🙂

  3. Megret says:

    Ha…I never put up one of those signs, though I should have (and still probably should). I do remember my mom taping a little plastic box over the doorbell to deter neighborhood kids who couldn’t read (my sis was 8 years younger). Desperate times call for desperate measures. 🙂

  4. Megret says:

    Ha…I never put up one of those signs, though I should have (and still probably should). I do remember my mom taping a little plastic box over the doorbell button to deter neighborhood kids who couldn’t read (my sis was 8 years younger). Desperate times call for desperate measures. 🙂

  5. Emily says:

    No Way! I can hardly imagine a day when my shirt doesn’t smell “permanently of breastmilk.”
    It’s nice to hear that the day may actually come.
    Congratulations.

  6. Stretch Mark Mama says:

    I need me one of them thar’ UNDER PENALTY OF DEATH kinds of signs.
    You know, to this day, I can’t ring another person’s doorbell w/o wondering if the homeowner is going to open the door and strangle me.

  7. Vered - MomGrind says:

    “the end of the baby/toddlerhood era in the Dryer house.”
    Wow. Bittersweet, isn’t it? Although my kids are 6 and 8 (almost 7 and 9!) and I don’t really miss the baby/ toddler days. Life is better now – EASIER – in so many ways.

  8. sandra says:

    Mothering is so bittersweet – our job is to actually work ourselves out of the job! I too had a preschooler in my home for 14 years and now my youngest is a senior in high school and I am a MOPS Mentor!

  9. Marianne says:

    Oh yes, the Quiet Time sign. Had one on our house two moves ago when my two oldest were tiny together; life fast-fowarded over the next three years through two more moves, one more baby so quickly that I never got around to another sign.
    Feel you on the wistfulness. Everything good passes so quickly.

  10. happyvalleygirl says:

    I always turned off the phone when they slept. And we had a dog that barked if anyone came near the door! They learned to sleep through it, thank the Lord.
    I put this on my answering machine so that I didn’t have to answer it when they were awake either:
    My nursery was pink
    but now it’s blue
    And one diaper pail
    Has turned into two
    So leave us a message
    after the beep
    And we’ll call you back
    When they’re both asleep
    Being in the ministry we got all kinds of call about broken refrigerators and spoiling meat, prescriptions that needed filled, birds building nests in siding–is that a sign from God?, complaints that we served margarine instead of butter at a totally free Thanksgiving meal….well, you get my drift! I worked it so I didn’t have to answer the phone AT ALL because very soon after that two turned into 3 babies! Then when people got our answering machine, all they heard was HELP!

  11. Alyson says:

    I pulled our sign down recently, also. And, too funny, the original one from 7 years ago was laminated. The one I just pulled down was on a scrap of white paper and you couldn’t even read the faded out Sharpie letters anymore (but since it was taped over the button, people generally got the idea). I had a moment of silence for that scrap of paper before I tossed it in the trash :(.

  12. Gretchen says:

    Oh, heavens, I will n.e.v.e.r. give up my naps/quiet time. Not never, not no how. I’m going on 12 years in one kid and 10 in another. At this point, the goal is to not wake ME. 😉
    Very sweet words, Shannon.

  13. Jennifer Gustavus says:

    TOO funny, we must have kids about the same ages. My recent milestones are…. DONE with diapers after 10yrs & 10mths. Now too, tomorrow am is the start of my first mornings to myself in the same amount of time. My three older ones are in elem. school (5th, 3rd and 1st grades) and then my lil’ guys starts preschool tomorrow, the same day he turns 4!
    Fun fun!
    Blessings, Jennifer
    ps still have the nap sign, probably the 4th edition, still pretty paper though, now I USE IT for MY naps!!!!

  14. Abbey says:

    I can’t imagine being wistful over the end of the toddler/baby years, but it’s probably just because I’m in the thick of it! 🙂
    Whenever I complain about being tired my Mom just reminds me that it won’t be that way forever. Or as she puts it, “I could hardly get you kids out of bed when you were teenagers!”

  15. Sherida says:

    I just wish I could get the teenagers who live upstairs to be quiet while my little one is sleeping. If only the doorbell was the only thing I had to worry about. I’ve honestly thought of putting a sign like that at the bottom of the stairs that are just outside the baby’s room. :o|

  16. Sandy S. says:

    Small tear shed your honor dear. But can I sign up for the course on how to keep your little ones napping for that long? My girls gave up napping before 2 1/2…praying my baby boy will enjoy his a little longer…he may be my last:)

  17. Aubree says:

    Oh, I just leave mine. Both my kids are in school now, (though the youngest is in afternoon Pre-K and might take a nap when she gets home- maybe)Anyway- I still leave her very cute, wooden, pink baby girly- “Please do not disturb, I am getting my beauty sleep” doorknob sign on our front door. This makes people leave us alone- like people selling stuff, or un-invited people. It works. I’ll leave up till they’re 22 🙂

  18. ... and baby makes four! says:

    My sign has been up long enough for the UPS, FedEX AND the postman all know to just leave the box right on the porch. No doorbells, no knocking, NOTHING!
    I no longer keep the sign up and I still have two napping children, but these guys won’t take the chance. I am sure they tiptoe back to their vans!

  19. Nicole says:

    Ha ha ha! I started to put out one of those signs when my oldest was a newborn, but then my engineer husband rigged the doorbell so it doesn’t really ring anymore. He put duck tape over the part that the striker strikes (technical terms here!) and now instead of a dong it just goes “doh” really soft. You can’t even hear it if you’re not in the living room. Which is fine by me–if I’m not expecting anyone, I don’t want to answer it!

  20. Cheri says:

    Very sweet story! I celebrated the day my last didn’t nap anymore. Now I didn’t have to make sure I was home at a certain time in the afternoon 🙂

  21. Laura says:

    Ha! That’s the very reason I refused to allow my husband to install a doorbell when he built our new home. I hate the things and never ring them at other people’s houses either! 🙂

  22. Kris- dreaming of mermaids says:

    wow. I bet the time went by FAST! I am still very much in the throws of nap times here with 3 kids under 5 and contemplating another one (are we crazy?!) so my sign will remain up a bit longer. I wonder how I will feel when it comes down. *sigh*

  23. Sarah Faries says:

    This made me laugh – I actually DO have a yellow sticky note taped over my doorbell – and have had it since my youngest was 2 weeks old! I change it out about every month!!! It says ‘please knock, someone is sleeping’ HA! TOO IRONIC!!

  24. Sally says:

    It has been a long time since my girls napped!! They are 18 and nearly 14, so it has been over 10 years since anyone napped in our house, but I still remember those days of not wanting the doorbell to ring and wake up the kids from their naps. Moms NEED that afternoon break!!

  25. Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk says:

    That made me laugh out loud! Even to this day (my youngest dropped her nap the minute she could say “I’m a big girl”) if the doorbell rings at ‘nap’ times I jump and my heart bangs in my chest thinking it will wake my slumbering baby. These days the only one likely to be napping in the day is me! And that’s while I’m at work . . .

  26. Princess Leia says:

    I need a sign that says, “No seriously mr./ms. condo association workman – when I tell you that I’m not going to flush the toilet because it’ll wake the baby, I MEAN IT!!!!!”

  27. Laura V. says:

    My current nap takers (4 and 2) aren’t bothered by the doorbell. When we moved into this house just under a year ago, I never put up a sign and it hasn’t been an issue. However, there will be a new baby in a few days and I’m so glad you reminded me to make a new one!!
    Hope you’re handling your new milestone as well as possible. I’m certain it will be a sad day when there are no more naps in my house – hopefully that’s YEARS from now, though.

  28. Jennifer (Et Tu?) says:

    “Please! I beg you! Be merciful unto me, a young mother whose shirt smells permanently of breast milk. They’re sleeping all at once and I am so exhausted and if you ring the doorbell you will wake them all up I will have to beat you to death with the FedEx package you’re so kindly dropping by.”
    That is so perfect. Would it be plagiarism if I had that permanently carved on my door?

  29. Edwina says:

    I remember those days and all the phases they go through. You go to worrying about who will wake them to who will they sit by in school, to where will they go to college, to who will they marry, the need for worry for our children just goes on and on. I still worry about mine and they have children of their own. But isn’t is great to be a MOM?

  30. Marcy Massura-The Glamorous Life says:

    My sign said “do NOT ring bell. Baby and/or exhausted mother sleeping. If you have already rung the bell by the time you read this, please be prepared for the wrath that is about to occur after I answer said door. And you will be commiting the next 2 hours to babysitting my cranky child while I complete MY nap. His diaper will need to be changed as well. Don’t even think of running away at this point.”

  31. Lori Drumm says:

    Ah yes, one of those bittersweet times when you’re relieved they’re growing up and becoming more self-sufficient and yet somewhat devastated that they aren’t your little baby anymore. My daughter will be 10 next month and I’m having more and more of these moments lately…cherish them all!

  32. Laura@heavenlyhomemakers says:

    Oh, my littlest one doesn’t nap anymore either…yet I still always reserve our afternoons for naptime because I can’t seem to break the habit. (All four of my kids are pretty much the same ages as yours I think.) I’ve very much in a funk about not having any more babies…yet loving the fact that we’re out of the baby stage.

  33. Marin says:

    We have a dog so after one too many people knocking ever so quietly, only to have the dog bark and wake up the babies anyway, my sign reads this:
    Shhh… Naptime. Do not knock or ring doorbell. Come back after 4pm or call me.

  34. Michelle says:

    I totally need this sign! Even so, though, the guy with the motorcycle next door tends to rev it up just as my peanuts fall asleep for the night.
    The phone rings, and my friends say, “Oh, it’s Friday. I thought your family might be up later.” Um, hello. They are babies. They don’t care what day it is. They need their sleep.
    Great post!

  35. Nancy says:

    And THAT is why I’m glad I don’t even have a doorbell. I only put up a note when I know somebody is coming – the rest of the time I just ignore any noises coming from that direction during my sacred time.

  36. applesofgold says:

    So what if the lady across the street is 99 years old, is almost totally blind, and insists on ringing your doorbell (in spite of the sign) almost every single day during naptime?
    Eventually, you stop answering the door. And the 99 year old woman stops coming to visit, and tells the rest of the neighbors on the street what a rotten person you are.
    But at least I have a few moments of peace and quiet. Totally worth it.

  37. Shalee says:

    Hey, just because they’re not sleeping doesn’t mean YOU can’t nap. I’d leave the sign on because if you’re anything like me and you actually get a chance to take a nap, then you might consider making a justifiable homicide movement on the caller and then pray mercy from the judge.

  38. SANDY PARKER says:

    I am a Grandma, and loved reading all these posts. I have put a note on all my doors since my first daughter was born almost forty years ago, and still do that for myself. I change it occasionally, depending on what is going on. I still enjoy a nice quiet afternoon nap, and all the little ones who were ever in our home, laid down in the afternoons until they went to school all day. Sometimes naps didn’t happen, but quiet time was a must for everyone. Moms all need a break, and quiet time is a good habit to get into.

  39. Jolanthe says:

    One would think that at some point in the past 7 1/2 years I would have actually gotten my bum off the couch and posted such a sign rather than RACE to the door.
    ‘Cause I’m quick like that.
    Jolanthe

  40. Kristin says:

    I’m the same way about my sons binky….I don’t want to get rid of it because it marks the end to any baby in him. I have seven kids and he’s the youngest….I want to hold onto any baby behavior I can.
    Oh, and his naps were up when he was born. I wish I needed a sign for him.

  41. Mo says:

    This is such a cute post… I love noticing little milestones in the things that other people just may not understand (much like the bread crust from your post on parenting).
    I’ve got to ask though, did your sign actually work? My mother always worked the graveyard shift, so we had a sign at all times that was more of a “Mother Sleeping, Please Knock” request. But it always seemed that no matter how large and obvious we made the sign, they still rang the bell. Over and over again. Maybe they thought it was funny… I don’t know…

  42. Shaina says:

    My friend and I have 6 month old babies right now and we are just starting to learn how important naps are for our babies. We realized just last week that we are going to be dealing with nap times for a LONG time because we both plan to have 4 children. I never realized how much napping babies and children do and what happens if they don’t get their naps! You really have to plan around those nap times in many cases!

  43. Kerry says:

    You never know……7 months ago, I was 5 years past taking my little sign down. My 3 growing boys had moved beyond the magical napping years. 7 months ago was also when I welcomed my sweet baby girl. Putting that sign back up 12 years later is a pretty big day too!

  44. WayMoreHomemade (Donna) says:

    It does seem like the end of an era when we go through certain things like… I won’t buy diapers any more, or no more sippy cups. Thank the Good LORD above I haven’t yet had an end to the needing/wanting kisses from mommy. I truly hope that day never comes.

  45. Ginger says:

    My first just turned three months last week and my sign is still a yellow sticky with ink pen (not even sharpie!). Since we plan on having more children I should probably fortify the sign a bit – It will probably be lasting 8 to 10 years.

  46. annie says:

    I was blessed with three kids under the age of 18 months, my sign says “Under NO circumstances are you to ring this doorbell or knock on my door, if it’s that important call the CELL and not the home number.” of course with all the baby toys and bikes blocking the front entrance, it’s unlikely anyone ever made it close enough to try.

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