This was it. My time to relax. The two older boys were playing video games in the play room (who knew they’d reach that age so soon?), and the baby was down for his afternoon nap. Everyone was fed, and the housework was done. I was ready to take 45 minutes out of my day to quickly clean myself.
Sure, I could have taken a shower. They’re quicker, more environmentally friendly, and my kids want nothing to do with them. But I needed a chance to rest and relax for a few. I wanted to finish the last couple of chapters of the book I was reading, and I needed to soak my tired back, which was still sore from that day I’d attempted to keep up with the leggy blonde on the treadmill at the gym.
I knew from experience that the baby’s nap time was basically the best time of day to get things done. My older boys know that they have to be extra quiet, so I generally don’t hear from them until he wakes up and begins to yell and throw toys out of his crib. For several days, I’d had two hours of uninterrupted peace from 12:30 to 2:30, and all I needed now was half an hour. Forty-five minutes, tops.
I made sure to turn the tap on, gather a towel and a change of clothing and place my kindle on the sink beside the tub so it would be ready. I then walked around the house like normal as I waited for the bath to fill. I feared that if I got in with the water running, I might miss the sounds of a fight breaking out. Or, more importantly, the kids might notice the noise and come to investigate. This way I could cut them off and reassure them that nothing was out of the ordinary.
Finally, with barely a drop of hot water left, I found the tub was nice and full. I turned off the tap and tiptoed down the hallway until I could verify that the kids were still engaged in their game. Then I hurried back to the master bathroom, stripped down and gently placed my tired body into the hot water. Bliss.
I grabbed up my kindle, and I escaped into depression-era North Carolina, trying to figure out if Pemberton would come to his senses and leave his psychotic wife before she killed his son. But before I could read more than a few paragraphs, I heard the telltale sound of tiny footfalls flying fast down the carpeted hall. “I HAVE TO PEEEEEE!” It was the four year old. I froze in the tub. Hope gripped me, and I prayed to Xenu that the kid would pick the bathroom that was literally five feet from the play room. You know… the kids’ bathroom. The one that is green with hot pink starfish painted on it. The one that already has dried pee on the seat and various moldy toys in the bath tub.
It wasn’t to be. My door flew open, and he ran past me into the little toilet cubicle on the other side of my bathroom. He began to relieve himself, and for a moment he didn’t notice me in the tub. Then, like in the worst kind of horror movie, his little head slowly swung my way, his little eyes staring into my soul. I watched as his entire body turned with him, pee dripping onto the toilet seat and floor. I grimaced. I’d have to clean that up.
“You’re taking a bath, mommy? Can I take one, too?”
No no no. I promised him that he could take one later. With all his toys. Yes, he could use my tub. Sure, we could turn on the jets. Yes, I’ll add a whole bottle of bubble bath. Just go back to your play room and let me have a few minutes to myself. That’s a good boy. Okay now, just go be quiet.
The door closed, and I sighed. I waited a moment to make sure he wasn’t going to come back. After a few seconds, I was satisfied. I leaned back and returned to my book. I really hoped that Galloway wouldn’t figure out that Rachel and the baby were in Tennessee. Oh what they’d done to the Widow Jenkins!
Again, the door flew open. This time, he wasn’t alone. My six year old stared at me. “Hey mommy. What ya doing?”
I’m just taking a bath. Go on and play your game. I’m almost done. I will be out soon. Go play.
“Oh hey, mommy, I just don’t want you to be lonely. I think I’ll stay here and keep you company.”
Oh, kid, that’s so nice, but really I’m okay. I don’t need you to… hey, come on now, get your hand out of the water.
“Oh, I just wanted to see how hot the water was, mommy. I’m just feeling it. It’s not too hot mommy. I love you, mommy.”
Thanks, kiddo, I love you, too. And honestly, you don’t need to stay here. I’ll really be out in just a minute. You don’t have to… hey, seriously now, put your shirt back on!
“Oh mommy, it’s okay. I just don’t want you to be naked all alone. Me and Dan will be naked, too.”
No no no, it’s okay, sweetie. Keep your clothes on. You want to go play your video games. It’s cool. Mario needs your help. He’s gonna… hey, dude, keep your feet out of the water!
“Oh, mommy, I just wanted to see how deep the water goes. It doesn’t go too deep. Look, I can stand up in it! Dan, come see if you can stand in it. Look, mommy, we all can stand up in it.”
Okay, kid, that’s great. Now get out and go put your clothes on.
“Mommy, it’s so cold outside the bath. Can you go get us a towel so we’re not cold when we get out? We’ll stay here till you get back. Can you bring me some toys to play with, too?”
Defeated, I grab my kindle and place it sadly on the counter. I grab my towel and wrap it around myself. I walk dejectedly through the door and quickly throw on the same clothes I was wearing twenty minutes ago. The ends of my hair, the only bits that touched the water, hang like worms around my shoulder. I sigh loudly and gather up a couple of towels and whatever random toys I can find around the room (which is far more than a master bedroom should ever have!) and toss them into the tub.
I have to sit on the edge of the tub for another half an hour as I wait for them to be done. At some point, I even grab some soap and clean them up, happy that at least I won’t have to do this later. Eventually, they are ready to get out, and I rub them both down with clean towels and help them find clean clothing. I hear the baby start to stir from his nap, so I tell the kids to go play while I go to his room and change his diaper. As I walk downstairs, baby on my hip, I notice the back door is wide open. Voices ring out, and loud laughter peels through the air.
I walk over to the back porch and look out at two kids covered head to toe in mud. They’ve decided to play in our raised garden beds, which the recently melted snow has turned into a giant mud bath.
I close my eyes for a moment and take a deep breath. If it was warmer, I would hose them down, chasing them around the back yard to spray them clean. But it’s only 40 degrees and February, so my options are limited.
I wonder how bad it would be to make them stay muddy until their dad gets home?
But no. I guess it’s time to run the bath again. Maybe tomorrow will be my turn.