Real-Live Action Hero

Instead, I reserve my unabashed awe for a tall, slightly balding man (my husband) who stumbled into my personal hall of fame when he bundled our first baby, Allen, to his broad shoulder one sleepless night (after a string of many), and mumbled, “Don’t worry, honey. I’ll sleep with the baby on the couch. You get some sleep.”

My droopy eyes blinked. Sleep? You mean that crazy thing I used to do before the baby was born? Suddenly, a hundred gun-toting terminators were not as gorgeous as my one pajamaed rescuer. As far as I was concerned, taking on our beautiful ninety-minute napper so I could collapse into a rare, moonlit stupor for a few hours was as daring an act as saving the planet from aliens or volunteering for a kamikaze mission straight into the scorching sun. That was my first inkling that I’d hitched up with a superhero, his true identity cleverly hidden behind an unassuming daddy demeanor.

As I continued to collect clues, my suspicions were happily confirmed when I discovered that his extraordinary super powers weren’t limited to snoozing on the couch with night owl infants—not by a laser shot!

Whenever we were jarred awake by the gurgling heaves of a sick child somewhere in the dark, Towel Man gallantly appeared, capable of staying up and comforting feverish toddlers, while I, half-asleep, stripped the bed, mopped the mess, then gratefully tumbled back to dreamland before I could mumble, “Who was that man with the towels?”       

But like any superhero, I guess it was inevitable that a weakness would be discovered one day and exploited by our curious, free-spirited offspring whose sole purpose was having a good time. 

“Go ahead, Honey,” he said one fateful Saturday morning, with a grin and a wave. “We’ll be fine.”“You sure?” I countered, although I must admit I could already see myself speeding solo down the street in my little Toyota liftback, free as a filly without a backwards glance at buckled baby carriers, fully equipped diaper bags, and the blue collapsible stroller. I convinced myself that my superhero could certainly keep an eye on our innocent, yet rambunctious trio and whatever tiny misgivings I may have had were quickly swept away. Who would have guessed that the super powers that smooth troubled waters during the night would completely abandon him on a perfect Saturday morning? Doesn’t every mother occasionally come home to three naked children dancing on the front lawn while their father tinkers with electronics in the backyard?

“I was watching them,” he said defensively when confronted with the jumping, giggling evidence.

But no matter.Who needs a glossy, muscle-flexing superhero who only shows up for intergalactic warfare or Armageddon anyway? Send me a hero who’ll lend a hand with life’s daily challenges—changing those stinky diapers, wiping small, upturned noses, or just offering to go on the night shift when an exhausted spouse needs some extra shut eye.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up rushing to the latest action thriller on sweltering summer afternoons. Not at all. I’m just glad that when I shuffle back out into the glaring light of day, I go home with the real action hero.

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