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Little Spouse On The Prairie: While You're Up

Nearly every evening, Joel delivers snacks and drinks to our bed. He has learned that it’s just easier to do it before I start begging and finding excuses as to why I can’t go myself. Because I am the queen of waiting him out.

It wasn’t always this way. Early in our marriage, there was a possibility that I might actually go back downstairs and pop the corn and bring some hot tea upstairs for the both of us. And to my credit, I did do that – at least twice.

But here’s the deal. He makes better popcorn than me. He gets out a big pot and pours in a little oil and patiently stands at the stove, shaking the pot to avoid burned kernels. He gently tosses in salt and melted butter to finish the job.

When I make popcorn, I grab a knockoff microwave brand, swear I’m going to wait and watch, and walk into another room only to forget why I went in there. By the time I return, there’s a smoking, charred chunk in the middle of the bag. If listeners ever want to know how briquets are made, I can demonstrate. I read that pregnant women aren’t supposed to stand next to a microwave while it’s on. This caution has to do with the carcinogens released from the vents because of all the popcorn that each particular microwave has transformed into briquets.

So, when Joel fetches the snacks and drinks before bed, it’s actually an act of self-preservation. He doesn’t want to inhale secondhand popcorn smoke. This is also an excellent way for Joel to stay in shape. Our house has a lot of stairs. If Joel has to make a few trips up and down them before bed each night, he is staving off obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Truthfully, Joel’s nightly sojourns to procure snacks are an act of sacrifice on my part. I know it is also an act of love on his, because, dare I admit it, Joel doesn’t even really like popcorn that much.

I don’t know why I hate going back downstairs after bedtime as much as I do. Maybe this stems from growing up in a house with an unheated second story. Once my inner kid gets those covers warmed up, she sure as heck isn’t going trek back down, come hell or full bladder. Even though we do have heat and a bathroom on our second story now, there’s obviously some residual psychological reluctance. I mean, I’ll do my part; I am happy to keep the bed warmed if Joel needs to go down and shut off the lights or the sprinklers.

Besides, it takes me a long time to fall asleep, whereas Joel is unconscious before his head even touches the pillow. Even if Joel is up and down those steps seven times an evening, he’ll still be out a good hour before I will be.

Joel often gets distracted on these trips. He’ll go down to throw a forgotten load of laundry into the dryer and be gone for 45 minutes. This presents a quandary for me. Since I have such a hard time falling asleep to begin with, do I lie there, drifting into slumber before he returns? This can be a positive sleep strategy for me, as I can get a head start on REM before Joel’s snoring begins. Or, do I go check on him? What if he had a heart attack? What if there was an intruder and he’s been knocked unconscious? The few times I have gotten really worried and gone down to check on him, I’ve found him sitting at the table eating Doritos and watching Youtube videos on his phone.

Usually, by the time he finally does get back upstairs, I’ve heard our little daughter stirring from her attic bedroom. When she starts flopping around in her bed, it means she has to go potty. Does it make sense for me to get out of the bed to take care of Clementine, when Joel’s already up and around? Since he’s already active, he might as well go on up and take her to the potty. He gets the added benefit of quality time with his daughter out of this arrangement.

Have a great week! Interact on social media at Little Spouse at facebook.com/littlespouseontheprairie or on Twitter at SpouseOnThePrairie@ValerieKuchera.

Host of Little Spouse on the Prairie, a regional comedy feature that airs Sundays at 8:35 a.m. during Weekend Edition.