The house creaks a tired sigh startling my mind, which is also tired and creaking. Broken from my reading zone trance, I hear a car pass down our suburban street. Alarms sing out in the distance; the refrigerator hums. It seems these noises only exist at night when our home is no longer filled with giggles, whine, and stomping feet that forget not to chase other stomping feet about.
It’s getting late. The clock on the far side of the room reminds me, and so I leave the nest I’ve built on our worn corduroy couch, kiss my husband, who will still find many hours in this quiet to write, and move slowly from room to room to check on our little world. The lights are off, the turtles have clean water, and breadcrumbs have not been left to gather on the counter until morning. I check the lock on the basement door, the sliding glass door, the front door, and climb the stairs wondering how long it will take to fall asleep. I wish for it quickly, so when I do wake hours from now, I’ll be rested enough to rise before the others, and have time once more with this quiet peace before our day begins again.
The kids’ lights are still glowing, although they have been asleep for some time. I move into the first room slowly to keep from stepping on Lego bits and Barbie shoes. The girl is snoring slightly, her body spread wide across the bed. Stuffed friends surround her. I stop, like I have for four years now, and listen to the constant rhythm of her breath. 30 seconds pass and my heart finds calm. “Goodnight sweet girl.”
I move just down the hall to the much messier room where I will step on Legos because the floor is made of them it seems. Here, among piles of blankets, in a mound on the floor, I know my boy lies buried. I pull back the covers and pray he hasn’t smothered himself. Warm and sweaty, I find my boy and listen again for reassurance that all is well. His breath is low. I lean closer, closer, until my face is almost pressing against his. Warm breath greets me, just like it has for the last eight years I’ve preformed this ritual. I whisper, “I love you, my sweet.”
I move on to the two large orange cats waiting on my bed, who are ready to settle in around my legs as soon as I lie down. I turn on my bedside light, a simple post with rod iron leaves, and my eyes find the addition of new treasures left there for me to love. A small plastic Santa hangs from one of the leaves. Next to him, a florescent pink pipe cleaner man holds a sparkly purple heart. On the table, little hands have added snail shells and acorn bits among the stack of books I hope to get to someday.
Pushing back the comforter, I climb in and bring it over my ears. I’m too tired to read and force myself not to check my phone one last time. I lean over before the cats can get settled and turn off the light. As my mind drifts I search one last time for clues that all is right in our world. The click of keys, little snores, refrigerator hum, cat purring, a stir from the bedroom down the hall. My eyes close in this quiet peace, my breath can settle; I’m ready to rest.