"How about going to bed early tonight?" my husband, Rick, whispers in my ear.
I rinse the last supper dish and ask coyly, "What do you have in mind?"
"I want to carry you to bed and have my way with you," he says in a darn good Harrison Ford impression.
"I'll meet you in the bedroom as soon as the kids are in bed." With a wink of the eye and a wiggle of the hips, I saunter out of the kitchen only to smash my toe on the doorjamb on the way. Actress Kate Capshaw helped Harrison Ford escape a doomed temple or something; I can barely make it out of my kitchen!
I hustle the kids through homework and baths. "Skip math tonight," I advise. "That's what computers are for. No, you don't need soap; just a quick rinse will do. I read somewhere that a little dirt protects you from ultraviolet rays. Pick out a bedtime story, a short one. Okay, Bambi. How about a condensed version: Bambi lives, his mother doesn't, he wins the fight, they all live happily ever after. Let's say our prayers. Hug, hug, kiss, kiss. I love you, too. And you. And you. And you. Good night. Good night. Good night. Good night." I'm glad I have only four kids, I think.
Finally, the kids are tucked away and the lights are out. I head toward the boudoir, where I slip into something slinky. At least it used to slink. Now it kind of snugs. Oh well. I dab my best perfume behind my ears, turn off the lamp, and light some candles. With the comforter turned down invitingly, I arrange myself in a glamorous pose among the pillows. I ignore the Snoopy pillowcase beside me; my bed linens haven't matched since the Reagan era.
The door opens. In a throaty voice I say, "I've been waiting for you, big boy."
"I can't sleep," a tiny voice whimpers.
Whoops! "What's wrong, honey?" I ask as I scramble into my robe.
"My tummy hurts. And my head. Can I sleep in your room?"
"No." I take Michael's little hand and lead him back to bed.
"You smell good, Mommy."
"Thank you." I tuck the covers around him securely. Would it be child abuse to nail the blankets down so they sort of immobilize him? Only temporarily, of course.
"Why are there candles in your room, Mommy?"
"Because she and Daddy want to smooch," says Josh, with all the worldly wisdom of a 12-year-old boy.
"Good night." More hugs, more kisses.
Back in my bedroom, I shrug off the robe and climb back into bed. I settle against the pillows just as a yawn escapes my mouth.
"Mo-o-omm," someone calls from down the hall.
"What?!" I bellow.
"Josh's arm is hanging down."
I grab my robe and stomp to the boys' room. "What's wrong with his arm hanging down?" I demand.
"It's bugging me," says Jason.
I glare at Josh, who's lying calmly on his stomach in the top bunk with his arm dangling over the edge. "Why is your arm hanging down?"
"I want it to," he says.
"Well, don't." I turn to leave.
"Mommy, Mommy, I still can't sleep," Michael whines.
"Close your eyes. It helps."
Back to the bedroom. The candles are flickering low, Snoopy's landed on the floor. I toss my robe somewhere and crawl beneath the covers. Forget glamour. And boy does this negligee itch. Good grief. How did the pioneers manage to have so many kids when they all slept together in one room?
"Mommy, I'm sick."
I roll out of bed, find my robe, and turn to see Michael standing in the doorway again. Wordlessly, I take him into the bathroom.
"Let's get you a drink of water," I sigh. "Maybe that'll help."
When I turn on the light, I see how flushed his cheeks are. He feels feverish, and his nose is so stuffy he can hardly breathe. Instantly I change from Kate Capshaw to Florence Nightingale. "Poor baby," I murmur. I give him medicine and a drink of water and once again tuck him snugly into bed. Caressing his cheek, I say, "Call me if you need me, baby; I'm right in the next room."
Once more I head back to the bedroom, where I hear Rick's snores before I even reach the door. He must have come to bed and fallen asleep while I was with Michael. I blow out the candles and change into a warm flannel nightgown. In the dark, I manage to find Snoopy and drop wearily into bed. "I guess we're just not meant to be Harrison Ford and Kate Capshaw," I whisper, dropping a kiss on Rick's shoulder.
Without waking up, Rick turns over and cuddles me close to him. I yawn, then drift to sleep with his arms around me.
Eat your heart out, Ms. Capshaw.
Rhonda Wheeler Stock, a TCW regular contributor, lives with her husband and four children in Kansas.
Copyright © 2002 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine.
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