Darth Vader keeps trying to have sex with me. I’ve had a longstanding crush on Harrison Ford, so I find it annoying that it isn’t Han Solo trying to seduce me under the blue comforter. Twenty years into marriage and here I am in bed with Darth Vader.
My husband snores. I don’t recall exactly when it got so bad. Perhaps he let out sweet gurgles in those early days when we couldn’t sleep together without our bodies touching all night in that double bed of mine. I remember vacationing pre-kids and finding ourselves with a king-sized bed in some fancy resort. It seemed overwhelmingly large as we curled up together on one narrow sliver of the acre of crisp white hotel bedding.
Now, instead of spooning through the night, I bury my head under a pillow and wear earplugs to drown out the cacophony.
So my husband went to Kaiser Permanente in search of a solution. I hoped they’d say, “We have a non-invasive out-patient nasal surgery for a $15 co-payment that will stop your nose from vibrating at 120 decibels, as if a wood chipper is in bed with your wife.”
But no, the doctor sent my husband for a sleep study at which they determined he needs a $400 CPAP machine, not covered by insurance, and the most un-sexy contraption ever built. And so, as my former Jedi-knight dons his Darth-Vader-like mask, the swoosh of air pumping in and out in with the whir and hiss of an evil antagonist. I roll toward him, pretending I’m drawn by the force, but I can’t stop laughing at the new reality of our romance. Stolen kisses that used to require the removal of glasses now necessitate an unbuckling and peeling off of multiple bands and straps along with the suction cup device that fits over his mouth and nose.
And finding time and sometimes the inspiration for sex is already difficult when you have kids. First the baby is sleeping in her bassinette in the same room and you’re fearful she might open her eyes and learn the facts of life before she can even roll over. Then you try to be quiet so you don’t wake your restless toddler down the hall. Later you sneak off while the kids are watching Saturday morning cartoons and you’re just about to get into it when you hear feet padding toward your room and the inevitable taps requesting juice or snuggles.
Soccer season starts and takes up your Saturday mornings and good god, why did the team have to be so good? Now the season that was supposed to end in November goes on with playoffs and tournaments well into March and you haven’t been home on a weekend morning in months. Weekday evenings are packed with practices and lessons and meetings and rushed dinners, so between trying to find the time and trying to be discreet, somehow the spontaneity and the relaxing into it gets lost.
So on this one Saturday morning, we woke up to a quiet house and some time before we needed to leave for brunch. Mmmm. Let’s just say, we’ve still got it.
Later, I found my 14-year-old son in bed, the covers pulled up over his head. I tried to pull them off, but he clung tightly to them, like when he was little and had done something wrong. I kissed what appeared to be his shoulder through the fuzz of his red blanket and told him we’d be leaving in 30 minutes.
When he emerged from his room, he brushed past me in the hall. When I saw him on the couch a few minutes later he looked away. This normally engaging, hugable kid simply would not look at me and I had no idea why. Did something bad happen to him at school that I totally missed?
As we drove toward Santa Monica, every time I glanced at him in the back seat, he turned to look out the window. He was surly and disconnected.
Our time at the beach was fun. Around everyone else, my son seemed normal, even joyful, but when half the group was in the water and the other half was off getting food, my son approached me in my beach chair, wiping droplets of water from his face and said, “If you wonder why I am so angry with you it is because I heard you and dad having sex this morning and it is totally gross. You have to promise me that you will never ever ever have sex with him again while I am in the house.”
Oh boy! This was good lovin’, but it wasn’t crazy, raucous sex. And I’m pretty sure the television was turned up to near capacity, but my son heard what he heard and he was really upset about it.
He was standing behind me. Still not meeting my eye. “Want to talk about this?”
“No! Just promise me.”
“Well, honey, that isn’t really something I can promise. You’re not leaving home for four more years.”
“You always tell me I shouldn’t have sex and then you go and do it. You’re a hypocrite.”
“Oh, now, there are several things wrong with that statement sweetie. First, I’ve never said you shouldn’t have sex. I have said I think you’re too young NOW to take on the responsibilities that come with having sex. Second your dad and I are married…”
“I don’t care! It is gross for you to do it when your children are IN THE SAME HOUSE!”
Good thing he doesn’t know we’ve done it in the same hotel room while he and his sister slept peacefully. This doesn’t seem like a good time to bring that up.
As if reading my mind, he storms off, kicking up sand as he goes.
The afternoon progresses with no eye contact. On the ride home, my husband and daughter get in an argument about her driving. As we pull up to the house, I have somehow become the bad guy and the brunt of their frustration as well. My husband is mad because I let her get away with being impolite and irresponsible. She’s upset because I did not come to her defense against her “tyrannical” father.
I’m standing in the kitchen near tears. Three members of my family are angry with me and all I’ve done today is have sex and go to the beach. My daughter sees me slumped against the counter.
“What’s wrong?” she asks.
“Oh you and your father are mad that I didn’t take sides and your brother…”
“Oh that,” chuckles my daughter, ever-so wise at seventeen, “He told me about that this morning and it was so cute. I never realized how innocent he still is.”
I paused in my frustration. My kids talked. My son went to his sister when something bothered him. That was good. He blamed me, because I am the Madonna figure in his life. But it is all part of his coming of age. And the damned snore machine is all part of my husband’s coming of a different age. In the end, the whoosh and the whirl and the sound effects – both those
hidden by the sounds of the t.v. and those heard through the din of everyday life, through ear buds and cell phones ringing – it’s the soundtrack of our lives. Like a John Williams score playing over the battle scenes of raising teens and answering the hard questions. So far we’ve been lucky. The force is with us.