Miss Sophie has slept in my bed since the day we got her, when she weighed less than a pound and I was sure I was going to roll over on her and squish her like a little bug in the night. When her daddy’s home, her favorite sleeping spot is right smack dab between us. As for the boys…..well…..I’m sorry to say that the only nights at least one of them isn’t in my bed are the nights when The Hubs is home. While I’m sure many of you are shaking your heads in disapproval, thinking that my kids are waaaay too old to still be sleeping in my bed, it’s okay. Because I know something you don’t. Little boys lose years in their sleep. They like to snuggle and cuddle, and they just look so darn cute, no matter how old they get.
Breaking my kids of the habit of sleeping in my bed has been a losing battle since 1999. (Yes, I said 1999.) Not because I haven’t tried, but because there always seems to be a completely legit reason to let them stay. And no reason has ever seemed more valid than the one I was given last night, as another long, stressful, difficult day was coming to a close, and all I wanted was for them to go to bed in their own rooms so I could cry myself to sleep in privacy. My youngest son, seeming to sense my impending meltdown, wrapped his sticky little hands around my neck (seriously, that kid is ALWAYS filthy!) and said, “We just want to be with you because we’re sad too, Mom.”
While my husband’s absence is never an easy thing to bear, I’ve noticed that it is, at least to some degree, getting a little easier for me to “bounce back” after he leaves. But it’s getting harder on the boys each time, as they continue to become more and more attached to their step-dad. And that breaks my heart. Last week, the boys and I were doing a quick run through the grocery store when we stopped in the soda aisle. It had been just a little over a week since the last time I was there, with my husband, the day before he left to go back to
I was pouting slightly because they were out of the soda I usually buy. I was trying to decide what to get instead when The Hubs stopped me. “Hold it!” He exclaimed, as he bent down so low that I could see the very outer edge of the waistband to his boxers….which started me on a train of thought I did not need to be on in the grocery store. “A-ha!” He yelled, interrupting my little fantasy as he dropped to his knees in the middle of the aisle. I flushed, a little embarrassed. “Ummm….what are you…..” I trailed off as he crawled into the very deep floor-level display shelf, then crawled back out, backwards, dragging two twelve packs of the soda I was looking for with him. He stood up, completely satisfied with himself. “See! They weren’t gone! They were just hiding.” I laughed, impressed that he would go to such lengths to get me my favorite cherry cola. “We only need one,” I said as he started loading the boxes into the cart. He sighed, as if I’d just broken his heart, and then put one of the twelve packs back on the shelf, all by its lonely self. It was one of the sillier moments we had while he was home.
I chewed on my bottom lip as the boys and I approached the same soda display, feeling a knot forming in my throat at the memory of my shopping trip with The Hubs. I didn’t even notice at first that they still hadn’t restocked the shelves since my last visit. “Oooh!” The teenager gasped. “Only one left!” I watched in silence as he grabbed the soda from the shelf, knowing without question that it was the exact same box my husband had rescued from the shadows of the display shelf just a week earlier. It hadn’t been touched. I didn’t know why I was suddenly fighting back tears, and it totally caught me off guard. There were still reminders of The Hubs all over the house. Dirty socks in the hamper, pillows that still smelled like him, dishes packed away neatly in the complete wrong cupboards from the last time he’d done the dishes. I’m not sure what it was about that box of soda on a store shelf that had me on the verge of a public breakdown simply because my husband had touched it.
“What’s wrong, Mom?” The Teenager asked as he loaded the soda into the cart. I shook my head, smiling, trying to hide the tears from my voice as I told the boys the story about my last shopping trip with their step-dad. They both laughed. Once I was finished, The Teenager picked the red and white box up out of the cart and clutched it to his chest. When I asked him what he was doing, he said, “I don’t know. I just want to carry it.” Oh. So it wasn’t just me.
I thought about this as The Teenager and E-Man sat on the edge of my bed last night, waiting for me to tell them whether or not they could sleep in my bed. E-Man was clutching his blankie and his favorite stuffed animal, looking up at me with his “Pleeeaaase, Mommy” eyes, while The Teenager was playing with his new iPhone, trying to appear disinterested. But I saw the smile flash across his face as I sighed and said, “Fiiiiine.”
I hardly slept at all last night. I woke up with bags under my eyes and in a horrendous mood. And not because my bed was too crowded, but because, somehow, even with four of us in one queen sized bed, it still felt entirely too empty.