For many years, I waged a secret war in the bathroom. In a
heroic battle of good hygiene versus new motherhood, I strove
valiantly to secure a bi-weekly shower. With three little ones
endlessly underfoot, I employed a host of diversionary tactics
designed to mislead and confuse the enemy. The purpose was clear:
secure a few drops of clean water and shampoo before my kids
started to cry.
Most days, I failed.
Yet when I succeeded, I took great pride in my mothering savvy
and ingenuity. I would begin by marching all three sons into the
bathroom and starting the shower. They were too little to be left
alone to roam the house, so I needed to keep them within arm's
reach. While the shower water heated up, I made my move.
Baby Joey was always my first target. In one fell swoop, he got
plopped into his colorful ExerSaucer along with a handful of
Cheerios. Joey instantly went to work on his cereal, demonstrating
a near-perfect pincer grasp which did my heart proud. Next up were
my two- and three-year old boys. Armed with cans of shaving gel, I
instructed Dan and Jack to build the largest, most impressive
shaving foam gel mountain the world had ever known. They
immediately started covering my entire bathroom vanity and sink
with dollops of cream.
It was a small price to pay for the eight minutes of peace I got
before a counter-attack was staged. It usually coincided directly
with the depletion of Cheerios or Skintimate Berry Shaving Gel. I
considered it a victory if I could get even one leg shaved.
My war wounds were evident. I cut my leg to pieces with the
razor because the kids had possession of all my shaving products. A
small sacrifice in the name of truth and purity.
Even with wet hair, questionable deodorant application, and
elastic-waist pants, I somehow managed to feel like I'd won as I
headed out of my house without even a glimmer of boogars or baby
puke anywhere on my person.
It dawned on me about a year and a half ago that perhaps it was
now safe to start locking the bathroom door. I was confident in my
boys' ability to not burn down the house in eight minutes. I
explained to them words like "privacy" and "modesty" to help
reinforce the idea that we all need private naked time. They
laughed every time I said "naked," so I wasn't entirely sure I was
During my first solo shower in five years, there were three
interruptions. Jack banged on the door to ask where he could find
batteries for his Leapster. I yelled out some choice words, and he
quickly scampered away in search of more receptive doorways. A few
minutes later, a newly potty-trained Joey was knocking and
demanding to be wiped. Eck. I threw on my robe and tended to his
needs. I returned to the shower with shampoo still in my hair for a
final rinse when I heard Daniel knocking and making a request for
Lecture #2 was conducted within moments, and it basically
guaranteed harsh punishment for anyone who dared bother mommy in
the shower again. Between clenched and chattering teeth (I was
still dripping), I outlined my very short list of acceptable
reasons to knock on the door while I was in the bathroom:
No more knocking. No more talking. No more kids. They all nodded
their heads in apparent understanding, and I was confident I had
gotten my message across this time.
The next day, I again headed to my steamy escape with a brand
new bottle of Skintimate Strawberry shaving gel and a sunny
disposition. The "click" of the door as I locked it behind me was
almost surreal. I knew I had put the fear of God into the boys, so
I didn't even consider another bathroom intrusion was possible.
Yet before I could lather up, I spied a note being shoved under
the bathroom door. Curious, I leaned over to read the message:
Mommy - can we have a cooky? Pleez check yes or no
Within seconds, a new note appeared:
Mommy - Joey hit Danny. Can we put him in time-out?
And finally, the last note:
Mommy - Can you take us to Chuck E. Cheese today? We'll be
good and not bother you in the shower. Circle yes.
I'm not sure who I blame. Myself? My kids? My parenting? Or the
Chicago Public School system for teaching the kids to write?
I've taken to hiding their notebook paper and crayons. Yet the
boys' ears perked up the other day as my husband watched a special
on World War II.
"Hey, Mommy! Do you know Morse code?"
Just what I need.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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