“Privacy is a privilege not granted to the aged or the young.” ― Margaret Laurence
I was pondering what to write about this week in my usual best thinking place, which is locked in the bathroom. I was mulling over topics, some funny, some serious, and then came the answer, in the form of an urgent knock and a shouted “MOM!!!” outside the door. Startled out of my deep thought, I started to say, “One minute…” but was immediately interrupted by my child announcing, “MOM! I have ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN Pokemon cards!”
And it dawned upon me. It has been approximately 11 years, 5 months, 27 days and 16 hours since I’ve had any uninterrupted time in the bathroom. Just one more room I took for granted B.C. (Before Children), much like every single other room in the house.
So I’d like to take a few minutes and ponder what I’ve lost, how I’ve adapted, and share some of the most memorable Poopus Interruptus moments.
Now, the loss of bathroom privacy hasn’t just affected my ability to use the toilet without being verbally or physically confronted. Ohhhh no. For example:
I’m not allowed to shower in peace. Ever. There is always some complete emergency that sends my kids banging into the room while I’m trying to forget they exist for ten minutes. Unless I do that in the middle of the night. Which is a joke. By the time I’d be ready to shower at night, it’s already too late, because I can’t keep my eyes open one more freaking minute. And I’ve long forgotten what the luxury of a bath is like.
Drying my hair? Ha! I just don’t bother anymore, because the second that dryer goes on, someone will rush in, yelling that it’s too loud and that they need my help immediately with finding the smallest object possible in their complete disaster of a room, which is usually inevitably located elsewhere.
Brushing my teeth has become something akin to a dental hygiene sprint. Are they downstairs? Is the TV on? Are they completely absorbed in some activity? Yes! And then a few seconds into my brushing and flossing routine, as if teleported there, a child appears at my side needing an immediate answer to pressing questions such as, “Mom, do boys have crotchies like girls, only bigger? Mom? What is it called again, what girls have?”
When I try to apply makeup, I’m transported back to high school, where there’s a couple of bitchy girls looking at me critically and saying, “WHAT are you doing with THAT color? WHY are you putting THAT on your eyelid? What IS that stuff?? Ew!”.
Getting dressed has become an exercise in stealth and strategy. I was taken aback when a friend once told me that her young daughter saw her naked and said, “Mommy, why do you have a mustache THERE?!?” And yeah, I know, you “only tell the truth” parents would take such an instance as a teachable moment and explain how bodies develop, blah blah blah. Good on you. Me? I’m of the “I’ll tell you about stuff when I’m good and ready to” ilk. Yes, when my 7 year old asked me recently, “Mommy, did I really come flying out of your belly button like KaPOW!”, I simply said, yes sweetie, you did. Cut me some slack, okay? We were out at dinner and I wasn’t in the mood to explain what a vaginal birth is.
But I digress. Getting dressed. No matter what time it is, no matter what they’re doing, no matter where they are, the second I am less than fully clothed they appear. And no matter what direction I turn in, they are standing directly in front of me. I’ve become a master of putting on underwear in less than one second. It’s really for their benefit as much as my own modesty. I recall being around 9 years old and storming into the bathroom the ONE TIME that my mother let her guard down enough to try to relax and take a bath. I saw her boobs, and she screamed like a banshee. Not a pleasant experience for either of us. Sorry about that, Mom.
And then, yes, trying to actually go to the bathroom. I think they have spent hours concocting reasons and excuses to cross the threshold, from the time they were born. I’ve been recently postpartum and trying to pee and deal with everything going on down there while rocking my screaming infant in her car seat on the floor with my toe, I’ve had the two kids screaming and trying to kill each other right outside the door, there was that time that the one came in without knocking and said, “Mommy, I don’t feel good…” and proceeded to vomit on the floor and my feet, the peeking in and snickering, “Hey Mommy, you have a tattoo on YOUR BUTT!!”, the “I need to come in because I need to know what color underwear you’re wearing today so I can write it in my notebook” (WHAT?!?), and of course, the constant and immediate need to speak to me the moment I close the bathroom door, no matter what. Because they need to know if they can have two or three oreos, their sister is a jerk, they can’t find their socks, they’re HUNGRY, they need me to open the paint, they want me to play cards with them, and they need me to help snap two lego pieces together.
But as I’m reviewing all of this in my mind and in print, I realize that mostly what I hear is them wanting and needing me, to help them, to comfort them, and to be near them. While these moments might not occur at the most opportune moments for me, my bladder, or whatever lingering sense of vanity I might have, I’m reminded of my greater purpose as a mother to two pretty amazing kiddos. So, go ahead girls, interrupt and disrupt as much as you want. I’m sure I’ll be looking back soon enough and longing for the days when my mirror reflected three faces and not just my own.