My husband is coming back. Any day now he’ll ask if he can return to our bed and I suppose I’ll sigh and have to relent. You know, since we’re married. Hopefully I’ll have mentally prepared myself for this and will allow him back with only the slightest bit of irritation on my part. And no, we didn’t have a fight. I didn’t kick him from our room or send him to the couch in the midst of yelling and tears or the slam of a door.
He ran over his foot with the lawnmower, and
we I thought it best, while his toe was precariously held together with string stitched up and supposed to be healing, that he sleep in the spare room where he could prop his foot up on a ton of pillows and sleep without bumping his toe against me in the middle of the night and having it all fall apart and staining the sheets (because, YUCK!). And also, the spare room would spare him the risk of the dog jumping on the bed and perhaps landing smack on top of the doctor’s delicate needlework.
My husband’s stitches were removed a week ago, and although the toe still looks rather ghoulish, all black and scabby with miniature Frankenstein-like scars crisscrossing its tip, it’s healing nicely enough and I suspect he’ll soon be ready to come back to our bed and sleep with me and the dog once again.
But I’m feeling a bit conflicted by this. Because, while I love the man, I sleep better alone. It’s no secret, the fact that I prefer to sleep alone. And my husband knows this. That’s just the way I am and I’ve more or less always been this way.
I’m not the cuddly type, at least, not at night. When it’s time to sleep I don’t anyone or anything touching me. Sheets and blankets are okay. Human hands and feet or dogs with wet noses, hot breath, and fur are not. I could never be one of those couples who “spoon” in their sleep. The very idea makes me want to whip out a dagger and scream “BACK OFF! Get out of my personal bed space!”
I’m not sure why I’m like this. Maybe it’s because, years ago, I overheard some of my college roommates discussing how the person sleeping on the top bunk would be stuck breathing in the germy exhalations of the person sleeping in the bottom bunk. Because breath is hot and hot air rises. And that idea planted itself firmly in my head and I cannot get it out. Or maybe it stems from riding in the back seat of the car with my brother on family vacations where we each had one-half of the seat for the ride. Do not cross this green vinyl seam, not even one pinky finger over or… “Mom! He’s on MY side again!”
And so this bed of ours, we’ve got sides. I sleep on my left side facing outward, off the edge of the bed, where the air is fresh. My husband sleeps on the other side, all stretched out with five or twenty pillows and the remote control to the T.V. and a book or the Nintendo DS I confiscated from Snags because of bad behavior and then I’m all “I’m trying to sleep here! Can’t you turn that shit off already and go to bed? It’s almost 11:00! And why can’t you sleep like a normal person with one pillow? Why do you need six pillows tonight? There’s no room in this bed! And move the dog over to your side!”
I had a cat once who liked to crawl under my bed covers and curl herself up against my stomach, probably for warmth. But I couldn’t sleep like that, because with every intake of breath my stomach would touch the cat, then when I’d exhale, there’d be a space between us. Bump, space, bump, space, bump space until I started taking shallower and shallower breaths, trying not to bump the cat at all, and then I’d be low on oxygen and suffocating right there in my own room surrounded by fresh air I couldn’t inhale because it would make my stomach bump the damn cat.
And now, years later, if anything touches me while I am trying to sleep, I start to breath funny and feel like I am going to suffocate. And if my husband and I happen to both roll over and face each other on the bed, I can’t breathe because I’d be breathing in his exhalations, which I was warned against back in college.
So there’s that you see, and then there’s the fact that I treasure sleep. I can’t get enough of it. When I was a freshman in college I had this one roommate who was some kind of vampire. She’d sleep all day and then stay up and read all night with the help of a lamp clipped to the headboard of her bed, and the light shone across the room directly into my eyes where I was trying to sleep, like a normal person does at night. I lost an entire year of sleep right there.
Once I got married, I started waking up whenever my husband blinked or twitched or rolled over or snored. And he seems to do this all night long. I also wake up the very second that he steals all the covers, which is also, ALL.THE.TIME. So it’s always something.
Then, eight years into our marriage my son was born and in the first 6 months of his life alone I lost what seems like 20 years worth of sleep. So now I am desperately trying to catch up on all that I’ve lost.
I’m sure as a mom I’ve had it easier than some. When I got pregnant I paid close attention to my friends who already had children. I watched their weary faces as I listened to their tales of woe about how their children would not sleep or would sleep but only in their bed, not in the crib or the beautiful teak toddler bed so lovingly purchased for them. One friend gave up and placed a sleeping bag on her floor and let her son sleep there. As he got older and she and her husband decided they wanted to try for another child, she came up with a schedule to move the sleeping bag 6 inches every night until it was near her bedroom door, then in the hall, then back into the child’s own room and she and her husband could claim their bed for themselves once again.
That’s CRAZY, I thought. No way, no how, not in my house, NEVER. And so from the start I put my son to sleep in a bassinette beside our bed and then after 2 weeks moved him to his crib. My rule has always been that everyone sleeps in their own room. My son is not allowed to sleep in our bed, though he asks. Sometimes he is so cute I am tempted to cave. But I know one night would be all it would take for him to request a second, then a third, then eternity.
So my son sleeps in his own bed and on rare occasions, as a treat, he gets to sleep in the spare room which has a queen size bed in it. On these nights we’ll have a special adventure where either I or Snags’ father will sleep with him in the spare room. And it’s rough. Snags you see, moves around at night as if he’s fighting off demons. So first I have to warn him 350 times that he has to lie still and go to sleep and STOP WIGGLING or he’ll have to go back to his own bed. And then once he does drift off, he starts to move. Sometimes he quite suddenly sits up and mutters something in the foreign language of those deep in slumber. But mostly he kicks. And so I lie there, perched precariously at the far edge of the bed trying to keep my back out of reach of his kicking feet and flailing limbs. But sometimes I’m unsuccessful and wake with a start from a sucker punch to my kidneys. In the morning I tell Snags it will be a long time before we do that again and I count my bruises.
Now Snags wants to go camping. I don’t think I’ll manage it well, being stuck in a small tent with a husband who snores and a small child who kicks. I imagine it will be like sleeping in a cage with an angry bear. And once we get home, my husband will probably decide his toe has healed enough to risk bumping it against me or the dog in the middle of the night.
It will be okay, I tell myself. It’s only been a few weeks. I’ll get used to sleeping with a person again. But secretly, I wish these were the days of I Love Lucy, where Lucy and Ricky had separate beds but in the same room. And the dog would sleep with my husband.