My husband is away on business for a week and I am sleeping with another man. In my marital bed.
Okay, so that was the scintillatingly salacious and just slightly exaggerated version of the story. I am indeed sleeping with another man, but he is stuffed. And no, when I say ‘stuffed’ I don’t mean that ‘he is really, really tired’ (though my husband would argue that after a few days in my company any man would be exhausted, and sadly I don’t mean that in a scintillatingly salacious way).
No, the man is, literally, stuffed. He is a toy. And, if you’re being really picky, he isn’t strictly a man, either. He is a Shrek. A stuffed, almost life-sized, felt-covered Shrek, a replica of the cartoon character from the movie of the same name. Oh, and he is green.
So how did I end up sleeping with a green, stuffed man? I needed a substitute for my husband. Turns out I’m not much good at sleeping in my bed without him. This confuses and shames me because I sleep perfectly well in other beds without him (which again sounds a lot more scintillatingly salacious than it is – I’m referring mainly to my mum’s holiday house on the coast).
The thing is, I really like to think of myself as a strong, independent woman. As put so eloquently by the Pussycat Dolls (a foxy young American girl band with whom I greatly identify, being an Australian, forty-one year old mother of three): I don’t need a man to make me happy, I get off being free!
And I do get off being free! With my husband away, I celebrate my powerful womanhood with glorious abandon. I hold the remote control when I watch TV. I eat cheese on toast for dinner. I walk around the house wearing depilatory cream and nose strips. I put the kids to bed really, really early and lie on the couch. Okay, so this may not be the kind of ‘getting off’ the Pussycat Dolls had in mind, but it works for me.
And yet, when it comes to bed time, I can't drop off. Why not? It’s not as if my husband and I sleep in each others’ arms all night. (Oh don’t get me wrong, we’re not in the Separate But Adjoining Beds stage yet, but we’re not newlyweds either.) So what am I missing? Is it the shaking of the bed when he turns over? The adorable throat clearing thing he does at 3am? The comforting knowledge that, if something goes bump in the night, he’s sure to wake me so that I can go investigate?
I don’t know. All I knew is that after he went away last time, I realised I needed a bedfellow. The kids aren't an option as they are noisy and wriggly. Friends aren't an option as they tend to have their own homes. My son’s life sized Shrek is the obvious choice.
My son looked a little nonplussed when I asked to borrow his toy but quickly regained his composure. (When you’ve seen your mum running around wearing a nose strip and depilatory cream, nothing much surprises you.) I tucked Shrek into my bed on my husband’s side, and pulled the sheets up high to disguise his pointy ears, flat nose, and rather vivid greenness. Then I climbed in next to him, and slept like a baby.
The Pussycat Dolls were right. I don’t need a man to make me happy!
Shrek, though, is harder to give up.
Does anyone else have troubles sleeping alone??? Or do you prefer it???