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Bedtime: The Never-ending Encore

June 10, 2014

Teeth brushed. Books read. Blessings said. Kisses and snuggles administered. Lights out.

Freedom. Silence. Exhale.

3, 2, 1 …

“Mom!” Child number one. A statement. A question. An exclamation. All in one.

“Yes?” Soft. Firm.

“I’m thirsty.” 

Water is fetched. Water is sipped. Covers are pulled snug. Soft fingers smooth hair from foreheads and kisses are administered to cheeks. 

“Good night. I love you.” Soft. Firm. 

“Love you too. Good night.”

Return the water glass to the sink. Grab book. Pour glass of wine. 

Freedom. Silence. Inhale.

3, 2, 1 …

“Mom!” Child number two. Same all-in-one statement-question-exclamation.

“Yes?” Soft. More firm.

“I’m scared.”

Breathe. You walk slowly to the room. Lean over the bed. Squeeze his hand, touch his cheek. Pull the covers up snug. Kiss his forehead. Kiss number one’s forehead. Pet dog at foot of bed.

“You’re ok. The night light’s on. Your brother’s here. Phoebe’s here. I love you. Good night.” Soft. Firm. Final.

“Ok. Good night. Love you.”

Freedom. Silence. Inhale. Exhale.

You listen. You wait. 

You begin to relax. Sip the wine. Inhale.

3, 2, 1 …

“Mom!” Child number one again, stating-questioning-exclaiming. 

When did “Mom” become a four-letter word?

“What?” Not soft. Very firm.

“I’m scared.”

You know this should illicit a compassionate response. Instead it releases endorphins and maybe a little hystamine. You walk quickly to the room. Lean over the bed. Squeeze his hand, touch his cheek. Pull the covers up snug. Kiss his forehead. Kiss number two’s forehead. Pet dog at foot of bed.

“You’re ok. The night light’s on. Your brother’s here. Phoebe’s here. I love you. Good night. “ Firm. Final.

“Ok. Good night. Love you.”

Silence. You hold your breath.

You wait. Sip the wine. You do not relax. 

Another sip. Book unopened on the bed next to you. Arms crossed. Wine dangerously close to empty.

Murmurs. Voices. Louder.

3, 2, 1 …

“Mom!!” Two voices. Simultaneous. Tirade one. Tirade two. 

All hope for spiritual diplomacy has absconded with the last sip of wine. No meditative chant, pranayama, or Northern California varietal can soothe the throbbing in your chest and the sizzle in your brain.

“What?!” Angry. You stomp to the bedroom.

Numbers one and two in unison. “He hit me! He stole my covers! He’s on my side! He won’t stop singing! I’m thirsty! I don’t feel good!”

“Enough!” you yell. “Say you’re sorry, give each other a hug, and go to sleep! I love you. You’re both fine. Here’s a sip of water and piece of duct tape. Now be quiet and good night.” A threat. Covers taut, kisses abrupt.

Shackles. Silence. Sharp breath in. Forceful breath out. You walk to the kitchen. Refill your glass. Stand at the counter. Sip.

Breathing.

Sip.

You’re creating a mad case of TMJ keeping your mouth shut, trying not to scream out loud—which sometimes you do anyway, but which does nothing to relieve the hard set of your teeth. 

You’re growing older with every bedtime routine.

Tomorrow night. You hope. Some day. You know. It will be different.

Until then you sip. And you breathe. And you wait.

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