Originally published in the Miami News-Record on March 20, 2016.
Sleep is defined as “a condition of body and mind such as that which typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is relatively inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended.”
Unless you’re married.
I love sleep and I am really good at it. I am at a stage in life where I fall asleep, stay asleep, wake up feeling like a Disney Princess – except the closest wildlife out here is possums and armadillos and those guys are really bad at housework. They work nothing at all like the cute singing bluebirds and squirrels in the movies. But I digress.
12 years ago Paul was in a motorcycle wreck. He was hit by a car. The car won. As a result, he has some issues with his back. A few years post-wreck we bought a Tempurpedic mattress in an attempt to alleviate some of his pain. We even got the ergo frame. That sucker will fold you up like a taco, sit you up like a hospital patient, or stand you on your head. There is no transfer of motion and it forms to your body. For me, it produces Sleep Nirvana. It used to produce the same for Paul, but after years of sedentary work at the casino and now factory work at his new job, his back muscles are staging a mutiny. The heavenly bed puts him through hell these days. Most nights he sleeps in the recliner because it’s the only place he can get comfortable.
Sleep is habit-forming. Not just in its frequency and duration, but also in how we do it. Paul works evenings, I go to bed well before he gets home at Midnight. Most nights he watches TV until 2 or 3 am and falls asleep in the recliner. I only see 3 a.m. if I have to pee. I get up early to see Sam off to vo-tech and start Kady on her schoolwork while we tiptoe around the recliner until mid-morning. It’s not ideal, but it works. On the weekends he tries to go to bed at a normal time and sleep in the bed, but he usually ends back up in the recliner. And typically, I’m glad when he finally goes.
Here’s the thing about my dear, sweet, darling, hard-working husband: he has the boniest knees in the entire history of forever. Oh, to look at him you’d never know he is a freak of nature, but trust me, when he lies down in a bed at night, those knees become lethal weapons. I have dealt with these killer joints of his for 23 years now and I think I have permanent nerve damage to the backs of my legs.
Because see, not only is he the “big spoon”, he is also incredibly cold-natured. He gets cold, scooches over to me, wraps his big strong arms around me…..then proceeds to jab his killer knee joints into the backs of my legs. I’ve learned to mule kick his legs into submission, but then the other problem arises: I am not cold-natured. I am a 43 year old woman and we are subjected to these things called night sweats. And they ain’t for sissies. So he snuggles in, I think “Aw, this is nice. He loves me and I love him and I forgot how nice this……used….t—OHMYGOSH I AM GOING TO SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST IF HE DOESN’T STOP TOUCHING ME RIGHT NOW.”
Psalms 4:8 says, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.” I love this assurance and maybe that’s why I usually sleep so well. However, even the Lord may have a hard time keeping Paul safe the next time those knees jab me in the backs of the thighs. We are currently in talks of going full Ward and June Cleaver just in case I can’t find a doctor who will comply with my demands of knee softening surgery. We’re thinking a couple of nice twin beds with matching bedspreads. A fan on my side of the room, a heater on his.