put me to bed
I know, I know. You’ve read this post before. I mean, not from me, but from a parent you know. You’ve heard it: Won’t someone put me in time-out? For the rest of the day? Please, merciful God, send me to my room.
I do my damnedest to write things you HAVEN’T heard a thousand times before but I’m going to give myself permission to be a cliche for the rest of this post:
Holy fucking shit, I wish someone would put me to bed.
Specifically, I wish someone would put me to bed the way I put my kids to bed.
I wish that, about two hours before my bedtime, someone would cook me a hot dinner that included vegetables smothered in cheese sauce, and call me in to eat it just as it hit optimal mowing-down temperature. I wish someone would know which was my favorite cup and set it down, brimming with my favorite, crushed ice and a splash of water for form.
I wish someone would be pleased to watch me eat. I wish I could make someone’s night by asking for more lasagna.
I wish that I could take my dishes to the sink when I was done. I wish someone would thank me for doing my chore. I wish I could get a high-five for carrying a dish three feet.
I wish someone would draw me a hot bath or turn on the shower while I selected my favorite book from the shelf. I wish I could dip my toes into the water or dance my fingers under the spray, find the temperature just right, and then step in.
I wish someone would stand outside the tub, holding open an enormous, me-sized towel. I wish they’d wrap me up from my shoulders to my toes. I wish they’d smell my hair, say, “Mmmmm…” and pronounce me “amazing.”
I wish I could go to my dresser and pull open my pajama drawer and find 14 sets of pajamas with all my favorite characters on them: a classic long-sleeved set with the Cast of Brooklyn 99, an Anchorman onesie, an organic cotton sleep dress adorned with Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s collar. I wish someone who loved me and paid attention to what I love would pick these things for me, just because they noticed I liked them, because they thought it would make me smile. I wish they’d wash them while I was playing on the swings, and fold them while I read my favorite chapter book in the afternoon sunlight, and I wish they’d slipped them into my drawer while I stood in the shower and wondered what I’d like to be when I grow up, other than loved like this forever, obviously.
I wish I could crawl into a bed that was 14 times my size and listen to someone I love read a story I picked. I wish I had the urge to do ninja moves in that enormous bed. I wish I had enough juice to bounce and tumble into the pillows with a “hiya” at bedtime. As it is, I have exactly 4 drops of juice left and I need them to drag my ass to the bathroom and brush my teeth, which is a fucking victory, every night.
I wish I had a cup of fresh water on my bedside table that I didn’t fill, or load into the dishwasher, or put back in its cupboard. I wish that someone would thank me for thanking them. I wish I expected this nightly.
I wish that when the story was over, someone would turn on my favorite white noise (it’s thunderstorms, btw) and leave me tucked into the enormous bed with a stack of books and a soft lamp aglow.
I wish I could fall asleep every night like this: clothed in love and intention, soothed to fucking sleep with tender, surgical precision.
Of course, someone did, a long time ago. So long ago that the only reason I think I remember it is because it feels natural to tuck my children into their beds, smell their heads and release the unconscious “Mmmmm,” of uncomplicated, pheromonal delight. It feels natural the way learned things do, the way it feels natural to finish the old “shave and a haircut,” tune with a “two bits.” You weren’t born knowing that tune and neither was I, but somewhere along the line someone taught it to you (I think it was Who Framed Roger Rabbit for me) and that shit stuck tight.
Parents, it’s easy to think that the things we do every day and night are not important, because they become a habit for all of us, remarkable only when they go seriously and catastrophically off the rails. Our daily work becomes a routine, and what we call routine can often feel insignificant. I think that the way we love our kids to sleep every night is significant. And the reason I think that is when I imagine someone putting ME to sleep as if I were a child, I can only imagine someone who loves me all day, every day, with their full heart and full attention, putting me to sleep like this, in my favorite pajamas that I didn’t ask them to buy. I don’t think any of us ever grow out of the desire to know that someone loves us enough to meet our needs without us having to ask.
I think I’m going to start a spa retreat where people will put you to bed like you’re their beloved child. I think we’ll keep lots of Kleenex and Scotch on the bedside tables because that shit will dredge up some childhood business that only tears and hard liquor can work out.
I’ll make sure you have your favorite cup, love.
Thank you for reading this post! I’m secure enough in my self-actualization to tell you that I got a little weepy writing it. It’s okay, kiddo. Inexplicable weepiness is something all adults feel from time to time.
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