“I’m going to take a shower,” I said to my husband. “A long one.”
“Okay,” he said.
I thought for another moment, taking in the empty bathroom. “Actually, maybe a bath.”
He raised his eyebrows as I removed a bath bomb — a Christmas gift from one of the girls — from the cabinet.
In my house, it’s a serious thing for mama to take a bath. A sacred thing. It means I don’t want to be disturbed. I’m known to stay in the scalding water, soaking and reading and listening to acoustic pop covers on my phone, and maybe even having a drink, for long enough that people forget what I was doing in the first place.
I shouldn’t have been surprised, then, when my kids burst into the bathroom after about four minutes, brandishing a package, one of them exclaiming, “Mom! I think this is for me!” and neither of them seeming to register my condition.
“Girls! Leave mama alone!” came the call from the front steps.
“Shut the door!” I sang after my progeny as they followed the sound of my husband’s voice back out of the house. I sank down a little deeper, trying in vain to submerge my ever-knotted trapezius muscles in the hot water.
Another two minutes passed before the doorknob turned again. My husband entered and began rummaging through one of the drawers.
“Whatcha looking for?” I asked casually, as if I wasn’t sitting naked in a tub full of steaming water.
I wrinkled my eyebrows. “Everything okay?”
“Yellow jackets,” he said. As an explanation, it was lacking, but I didn’t have the wherewithal to probe further.
I directed him to where I’d left them, and he left again without further elaboration. At least he closed the door without a reminder. I rearranged my hair, leaned back, and attempted once more to zone out.
It couldn’t have been more than another minute before one of my amazing children, dirt and grass stains on her knees, a book in one hand and a cheese stick in the other, launched herself through the door once more. “I’m sorry, Mom, I know you’re trying to take a bath, but I really need to poop.”
I did the mental equivalent of throwing my arms up in the air. I’m not always Zen about these kinds of things, but in this case, the hilarity of it all just bowled me over. Before I knew it, both kids, along with the dog, were in the bathroom, just going about life as if I wasn’t sitting there in my birthday suit, trying to soak in a quarter of an hour of peace. I’m pretty sure any one of them would have hopped right in with me if I’d offered.
I smiled in spite of myself — maybe because it was Mother’s Day; maybe because I’m trying really hard to be less uptight about things in general.
Did I expect this kind of glamor, when I was envisioning motherhood? No, I suppose I didn’t. But I wouldn’t trade these crazy, imperfect children for anything in the universe.
This story is dedicated to everyone out there who can identify with the exasperating beauty of parenting. There is nothing quite like it.
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