First of all, this essay is not about sex. There will be no bauw-chicka-bauw-bauw anywhere; but I will write in great detail about going to bed with my wife. I believe in the sustaining power of 10 p.m.
Years ago my wife was asked to name her favorite time of day. She’s a principal, and loves working with teachers and students every day, but she didn’t mention any of the hours at school. She’s a devoted mother to two fantastic, fun, brilliant, beautiful girls, but she didn’t mention dinner time or homework time. Instead, she answered simply and directly: 10 p.m.
When all goes as planned, we get home from school, eat dinner, do homework, and hang out as a family before the girls take showers to get ready for school the next day. If all has gone well, my wife and I go to bed at 10:00. Once there, we get to what we too often don’t have time for during the busy, busy day. We debrief. We talk about school; we share emails and talk about the big and small events of the day. We plan for the next day. We talk about the girls. We read, side by side and, sometimes, to each other, sharing passages or whole pages of a novel or a magazine article. We watch tv and talk through the commercials. We share prayer requests we’ve gathered through the day. We check facebook and make fun of those people who post too much information about themselves. We ask questions that can’t be answered and dream of possibilities for vacations. Eventually, we decompress enough that we’re ready to turn off the tv, turn on the noisemaker (it rains every night in our bedroom) and go to sleep.
That sleep is made possible, though, because we’ve shared those few minutes. Every night, year after year, we’ve done so. And it has sustained us. Our lives are so busy. Everybody’s life is. We spend so much time completely removed from Thoreau’s innocent but inviting advice to “simplify, simplify.” But at 10:00 every night, my wife and I are reminded of what really matters.
We find in each other what humans across the globe find in those they love: peace, contentment, restoration. The irony is that we’ve carved out entire lives that build us up and let us build others up. We take equal roles in parenting; we’re lifelong educators with no vision of retirement. But we realize as we lie there each night that everyone in the world needs moments like our 10 p.m. Because in it, we can use each other to find ourselves, and to prepare for tomorrow all over again.