My favourite time of day is 8 pm. By then the household has been fed, the kitchen has been cleaned and I can escape to the bathroom and run a bath. A glorious, hot, bubbly bath (provided nobody has used all the hot water).
That is where I lie for the next hour, either reading magazines or playing mind-numbing games on my phone. I, previously, have dropped a phone in the bath and have even fallen asleep in the bath while reading one of my daughter’s books. The book doubled in thickness from all the water it had absorbed and, despite drying it for several hours in the sun, the book was never the same again. This hasn’t stopped me though. It is well worth the risk for an entire hour of sanity.
I trained my children from a very young age that when mom goes to bath, mom is not available. It is only in the last few years, however, that I have achieved success in this. Many years ago, preparing for a bath involved a lot more planning. I would sit the children on the couch with their father after having completed my mental checklist –
Child is fed? Check
Does child have favourite blanket? Check
Child has ‘sippy cup’ filled with juice? Check
Child’s favourite movie is on? Check
Then I would head to my hideaway (bathroom), lock the door and prepare to be engulfed in euphoria. Approximately three minutes and eight seconds later a voice would sound at the door.
“Mom, I need more juice.”
The word ‘need’ is an interesting one as it implies potential harm should the need not be met. This thought was replaced with the realisation that my child would have had to climb off her father’s lap to come and ask me for juice!
“I can’t come now, love,” I would reply. “Ask your dad.”
Then the words every mother dreads…
“I want you to do it.”
At the precise moment, one starts the mental debate about which of the currently available avenues one should take. The first avenue I considered was to simply be quiet and pretend I wasn’t there anymore, however, that would only work for a brief period of time before I felt guilty, got out of the bath and poured my child some more juice.
The second possible option was to call her dad and ask him to kindly replenish said juice. I considered the consequence of this choice and the insistence of a young child who was clearly not in the mood to negotiate. It would result in much screaming and tantrums because “Mom knows how I like my juice poured”. I would have to get out of the bath to do it anyway and, as it would have ruined my peaceful mental state, a return to the bath would be pointless. The only course of action to follow, that might allow me to enjoy this me-time, would be to go and pour the juice and then return to the bath as quickly as possible. This too had potential dangers though. I risked anyone of the following –
“Mom, I’m hungry”
“Mom, come sit with me”
“Mom, can I get in the bath with you?”
“Mom, can a bird and a dog make a baby?”
I admitted defeat, got out the bath and dried myself. In the lounge, my husband was happily watching The Lion King, none the wiser that his child needed juice. I poured the juice and my wonderful child happily toddled off to the couch and sat down. Amazed at this strange turn of events, I immediately rushed back to the bathroom and lay down in the bath. A few minutes later there was that voice again.
“Daddy is sleeping.”
“I will be there now,” I said with a heavy sigh as I pulled out the bath plug and watched my glorious warm, bubbly water drain away. In the lounge, I stood staring at my husband. His snores drilled into my head. Each one taunting me to pick up that pillow and…
It has now been very many years since those struggles and hiding in the bathroom became one of my life’s great achievements and joys. My husband is still alive, but we are happily divorced. The children aren’t interested in bothering me anymore and they know how to pour their own juice but that is not to say that the story ends there.
My new babies are dogs. I am used to them sitting outside the bathroom door. They wait for me patiently and I don’t feel any pressure to get out of the bath. Ok, that isn’t totally true. There is a twinge of guilt but for the most part ‘out of sight, out of mind’ rings true.
Enter the last addition to the family, a glorious pug who is completely obsessed with following me around everywhere I go. I can walk around in circles and she follows me. I can go in and out of a door and she’s right beside me. ‘Out of sight out of mind’ has become a little more complicated as anyone who has a short-nosed dog can tell you. They are not known for breathing quietly. During my bath, I can hear her at the door. Overcome with guilt I will ask one of the kids to fetch her which they do, but within two minutes she is back. My lovely kids (bless their hearts) will fetch the dog bed and tuck her in so that said pug can wait comfortably. Then the stand-off begins. She whines softly, I ignore her. She scratches at the door, I ignore her – and then she finally stops trying to coax me out the bathroom and the waiting game begins. I can hear her breathing, and eventually, it gets heavier and heavier and I know that it is safe to top up the hot water. The heavy breathing gives way to snoring and I lie back in the bath with a smile on my face.
Snoring is now the most wonderful sound in the world.
It is the sound of freedom.