I’ve only been asleep for a couple hours when I sense my son laying next to me and I surface into barely-awake, put my hand on his chest, lean in and kiss him. To my surprise his eyes are open. He smiles at me, a tender smile but a wan one, a delicate shy little smile I used to call “fishtrap” (for almost no credible reason). I move my hand lower and discover he is wet. I feel the bed and it’s dry. “Nels… did you pee?” I ask. “Yes Mama. I’m sorry,” he answers. Then he stands up next to the bed while I swing my legs over and sit up.
I’m tired, slightly disoriented and I survey the job ahead of me. We four sleep in a small bedroom that barely fits the small desk, dresser, and two beds (one king and one twin), both flat on the floor, no headboards. I realize after a few moments that Nels actually wet the other bed, then came and got next to me, himself sleepy and unsure what to do, likely counting on my mother-radar to bring me awake (it works). I turn on the lowest light I can, in the closet. My husband is flat on his back, covers thrown aside and boxer shorts in disarray; our daughter lies in the king-sized bed, a sleeping beauty. It’s no small task ahead of me; the snug-ness of sleeping arrangements and beds means I can’t solve the problem without moving bodies and stripping beds entirely.
I begin the family exodus of the two sleeping Hogabooms who are both nearly wooden. I put Phoenix into the kids’ room (which does have two twin sized mattresses; a loft bed with a foam pad underneath). My daughter asks me to stay with her for a few minutes and I do while my son runs the bath. I stroke and kiss her. Soon she’s back asleep.
For a few minutes I am feeling anxious. Then I realize this is because in my world a mattress is an expense. One bedwetting does not a pallet ruin but hello, we’ve had this one for quite some time and tonight is not my first rodeo, urine-wise. Still, my awareness moves and I realize buying new mattresses, at some point, it’s a part of life. I’ll figure it out when it comes time. My anxiety lessens considerably. I feel glad I did not act on it in any shitty way to my family.
Ralph is up now so I ask for his help. He is merely sleepwalking, though; for instance when I ask him to get a towel so I can scrub the twin mattress I hear him a few minutes later talking to our son who is bathing, quite happy now. Inexplicably he is washing Nels’ hair as Nels chatters along. I relieve Ralph of this task and he starts off to bed again and I (re-)request him to scrub the mattress with a wet towel which he does (sort of and finally), then he amiably cruises the house, first getting himself a snack and then finding cats to slip under the covers between his legs. Ralph Hogaboom is the biggest cat-softie ever, even though he goes through some pains to hide this from the general public.
I dry our son and slip him clean boxers. He is so happy and slides in bed next to me, his arms around me, his long blonde hair, drying now, soft against my shoulder. Mable (kitty) is under the bedcovers with Ralph and Hammy and Josie (more kitties) are at the foot of the bed happily grooming and snoozing. I think our house is one of the loveliest sleep environs I know.
It may sound odd but I think these kinds of parenting experiences have become some of my favorites, simply because it is such a brief and simple opportunity to take care of someone in a gentle way. I don’t find it all that aggravating anymore like I used to. I feel incredibly fortunate to have such an expanse, such a feeling of bounty, yes despite the shabby blankets and mattress worries and all that. It’s so easy to care for my children properly about 90% of the time. I used to muddle through more or less behaving extremely put out by a lot of it. I don’t feel I’ve Arrived or I’m some incredible parent, but I do feel I’ve changed and that incidents like tonight are just another sweet chapter in family life, knitting ours lives and loves together day after day.
It’s almost two hours since I woke and Nels is still up playing (his new obsession) Minecraft. He comes over with the laptop and stands to show me something; his skin is smooth and warm and his voice is lilting and he calls me back to bed.