2011.10.26 Sleep at your own risk

Written by David Green.

It’s been a dull couple weeks in my neck of the woods. Other than the continual worrying about ride-sharing, couch-surfing Maddie, and a failed attempt at playing matchmaker, not much has been going on. So, here’s a repeat column from March, 2004, brought to mind by this week’s column from the guy on the next page.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

“I sleep with the publisher.”

That’s what I tell people when they ask how we get such good news coverage of library events.

But, boy, lately I’m wondering if it’s worth it. There’s the usual—hopping into bed in the dark, lying my head wearily on the pillow only to find a big lump—the book I’d left on my dresser. Or sliding into bed, again in the dark, and discovering there’s no space for my body to stretch out: he’s placed two pillows under the covers at the bottom of the bed.

A couple nights ago, I awoke with a start. I knew it was because the publisher was nudging me: he claims I snore. A little poke in the arm, a push to the shoulder, just a change in position, and the snoring will stop. That’s how I approach the matter when he’s sawing away. I don’t want to wake him up, I just want to silence the saw. My little pokes are effective—he quits snoring but doesn’t awaken. But, his pokes? I’ve never found bruises, but he must be pummeling me, because there I lie, suddenly awake, wrapped in a fog, but wide awake. I sense a body next to me—pretending to be asleep.

A rough nudge is not so bad. It’s better than being walloped in the nose with that deadweight space age pillow. OK, it was an accident. We were switching pillows and I got clobbered when he swung that heavy hunk of super dense foam across the bed.

Still, it’s a dicey proposition sleeping with this guy. Sometimes I have to remind myself that he used to give just as good news coverage of library events even before I started working there. Hmm, maybe I don’t need to sleep with him at all?

Now, now, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t get excited. I have no intentions of going down that road. Especially not in the winter—the man’s a furnace. His body heat can’t be beat. But I have to time things just so. David goes to bed hours before I do, so by the time I am ready for bed, he’s ready for his nightly trip to the bathroom. I have to gauge it so I arrive well before his bathroom trip (I reserve this option for nights when I am so tired I won’t awaken when he leaves the bed) or well after he returns from his bathroom trip, giving him sufficient time to warm the bed again.

There is danger here. Sometimes he takes longer to drop back off to sleep and although the bed is warm, he is wide awake and in one of those kooky moods where he comes up with bizarre notions for festival themes or pranks to play on people or goofy ideas for stories that will never appear in a family newspaper. We laugh and laugh (everything is funny at three in the morning) and soon, I, too, am awake.

This is a bad fix for me, especially if I’m scheduled to work at the library in the morning. So, I have to get a grip and remind him that it really is true: rubbing my back will make him sleepy. I don’t think I’ve really convinced him, but after all these years he still obliges when I suggest it. Yes, he truly is a good man, books under the pillow and all.

David’s innate goodness is probably the reason I made this really silly promise years ago when he was the primary, heck, the only bread winner in our family. It was important to both of us that I stay home full-time and raise the kids. I had no idea when we went down the messy potholed road of parenthood that I would ever feel that way. So I was extremely grateful to David for supporting the stay-at-home endeavor—so grateful, in fact, that I promised when he was older and the kids were grown, I would work and he could retire and play. 

The other day he reminded me of my promise. I had that deep sense of regret and remorse. What had I done? What kind of bargain had  I struck? A completely unnecessary one! David had been in full agreement with our parenting choice. Heck, it was something he wholeheartedly embraced. Remember? This was the guy who paid me for being a mother so I would have my own pocket money unrelated to household expenses. 

My mother always stressed the importance of never breaking a promise. Of course, she was careful—she never made a promise she couldn’t keep. “We’ll see,” was probably the most common sentence she uttered to our requests. She never wanted to break a promise and the surefire way of preventing that is to never make one. But once you make a promise...

I know, I’m in the unequivocal position of fulfilling it. Except...all those hours, days and nights I spent caring for our children. They add up. Assuming I got credit for even 10 hours a day (a very low estimate) for 365 days a year for 10 years (the period of time I was exclusively at home) at $10 an hour (a rough estimate that includes the hidden costs of working outside the home)—that’s $365,000! The minimum of what he owes me!

I think David will be working a few more years, especially if he wants to keep warming my bed.

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