One Of My 3 Greatest Victories As A Mom? Getting To Shower ALONE


Is it so wrong to want to shower, go to the bathroom, or take a short phone call in peace?

No one told me I would become a hostage when I became a mom. Who left this out of the child birthing classes? Where was the warning that my life would be completely taken over by poop, snot, vomit, and tears?

Why didn't anyone tell me that each child you create in the world takes years off of your lifespan, removes the clear thought processes of your mind for at least 18 years, and forever claims your emotional well-being? 

Mothering by myself as a divorcee and having no family in the state in which I reside, has taught me many great lessons. I've learned to fight for a few things in my life like I've never fought for anything before. I would like to share a few of those personal victories. Well, almost, kind of, sort of ... maybe one day.

1. I get to take a shower.

What? Yes, I wrote that. I have three kids younger than 10. I get to take a shower, by myself, without constant threat of the world ending. Maybe it's a lot to ask, but I ask anyway.

I paid my dues when it comes to showering with an audience. I've done the swing in the bathroom at an angle so I can see my first born, while I shower quickly before she cries because she can't really see me game. I've done the put one in a play pen and another in a bouncy seat while I shower.

Then when the third came along, it was the bring one (or two) in the shower, have one in a bouncy seat and/or the other occupied with toys, while I quickly shower and was whatever child is in there with me before something catastrophic happens routine, too.

Or, wait until Dad came home (I was still married then). Or, just give up completely and smell. Those were my options for a long time. Then they were all mobile and older and all three would come in with me. Then one was old enough, so two came and the other was fine. Then only one came in with me.

I did my time. I can now shower alone ... sort of.

I have certain rules that are in place when I am attempting to shower. The set up for such an event begins long before I enter the bathroom, close and lock the door. You may recognize some of what I have to do to set up taking a shower when I'm home with my three children.

Shower Preparation

I begin by announcing that I will be taking a shower to each individual child. I look them in the eye and tell them I'm going to take a shower. Eye contact is important; it allows me to think they may have heard me.

I then ask them to repeat back to me what I've just told them. This begins approximately one hour before I am going to make it into the bathroom. I do not plan on it being an hour, that's just how it always seems to work out.

My kids hear this and instantaneously begin to come up with things that need immediate attention as soon as they have sad the words back to me.

It is like saying, "You are going to take a shower" turns on their brains. This "turning on" accesses a folder in which they have a running list of items that need attention immediately, if not sooner. Those items begin to flow like a river consciousness from their small mouths. 

Most of these I can delay. There are, inevitably, a few I can't delay. I do not feel the need to give examples here. Just know I do my best to remove all obstacles in my way for taking a shower.

After I deal with those items, I then make a larger pronouncement: "I am going to take a shower" bellows from whatever floor I'm on, so all children will hear.

The next step is to set each child up with an activity including—homework, music lessons practice, a snack. Not surprisingly, this also includes additional various items—TV and video games if I'm desperate. Yes, I said desperate.

If you have kids, you know what I mean by that statement. There are times when I need to get away from them to have my own thoughts for a moment. I may also just need a shower; that is a legitimate reason to shower as well.

After I've made sure they're all occupied with things to do, or stare at, I move toward the bathroom.

As I move toward the bathroom, I announce expectations, like the following:

  • Do not answer the front or back door!
  • I locked the doors!
  • We are expecting no one!
  • Do not touch each other (mostly for the boys, but sometimes applies to ALL)!
  • I will only be a few minutes (maybe ... hehe)!

You can only bang on the door if it is an emergency, which means any or all of the following (and all include calling 911 first):

  • Someone is bleeding, severely
  • Someone got knocked out
  • Someone is trying to break into the house
  • If a fire breaks out in the house (not on TV or down the street)
  • If a large piece of furniture falls on someone
  • The floors have turned into broken shards of sharp glass
  • A UFO has landed in our yard
  • A vampire and/or zombie got into our house and is hungry
  • The walls are closing in and about to crush all inhabitants
  • The children have found a portal to another dimension in the basement and want to check it out (DO NOT!)

Otherwise, I do not want to hear from you for a full 10 minutes.

I know it sounds incredibly cruel, but when your sanity is on the line it's actually kind. Think how much I would demand if I went over the edge. It'd be bad.

Then I step into the bathroom. As soon as my foot crosses the threshold, I remember something I've been meaning to do all day in anticipation for this moment. I did not bring up more toilet paper from the car, I'm out of clean towels and they're all awaiting me in the basement. I did not grab my clean clothes to change into after I shower. Crap!

I don't want to go back out there because they will smell me and know I'm still wandering around. They will know and they will demand more of me. 

I run for it like a Zombie is chasing me.

While I run through the house to get the needed items, I yell, "I've not taken my shower yet, I'm going in right now, I just forgot (whatever it is)." Then I quickly grab said item(s) and ignore all protests, unless they fit into above list, and run back to the bathroom.

I admit, once I close the door and let out the breath that I've been holding to get inside and close that door, I'm no longer in a hurry. I suddenly hope I can extend my stay. I start to think that I deserve a nice, long shower. I deserve a break. I slow way down. 

Right at about 10 minutes (hey, it took me years to get a 10 minute shower), there is a knock. I know they're not watching the clock. I know they are not counting the minutes consciously, but there is some subconscious thing inside of them that just knows when time is up and I have to get back to them. It's amazing. If children like this scheduled corporate meetings, we'd get so much more done. 

"Mom!" comes the yell.

"I'm in the shower! Is it an emergency?" I ask, knowing they know the rules. It'd better be an emergency because I'm getting shampoo in my eyes trying to turn enough to hear them. 

They are far too smart for my tiny little brain.

"Mom!" followed by an unintelligible muffle of words.

There is a way in which kids yell "Mom," that kicks in a motherly (or fatherly) instinct. You can tell by the tone that it's serious situation. Someone is really hurt. This also applies to when your child cries. Moms and Dads know by certain cries if the child has hurt feelings, true physical pain, humiliation, or if the child is just angry.

They use the "serious" tone when I'm in the shower, or else it just sounds like that tone through the door, and the water, and the stinging soap in my eyes, and the fear beating in my heart.

"Are you bleeding?" I yell through the steam and noise and muffling of the door.

"Mmmftgh," comes the reply.

This is where they start talking softly so I can't hear them and I wonder what's really going on. My children (all children, I would guess) are so smart and wise to the game. I'm just a patsy, here to abide by the wishes of my captors. My little adultnappers.

Of course, it's never been an actual emergency. It's always something about a video game or someone not sharing something, but the damage is done. They even run off and yell "nevermind" by the time I can hear them (argh)! They hijacked my shower and I'm completely out of my relaxed state.

I get a shower, but not quite like the one I'm working toward. I do deserve a relaxing shower everyday, and I will continue my quest to achieve one that is as blissful as possible.

2. I'm allowed to take a phone call.

It is amazing how children are completely occupied with their own stuff, and as soon as their echolocation picks up on the slightest movement of my hand toward my phone, they are next to me pulling on that arm with an emergency.

I think we underestimate human capabilities and connectivity. Children are a prime example of having super human abilities to KNOW when Mom may get to do something that she wants to do. They have animal-like instincts and they kick in at both random and predetermined times based on situations. They are bat-kids, spider-kids, and super-kids.

The rules for a phone call are the same as far as allowing me to talk. However, it's so much easier to derail a conversation on the phone than in a shower. They know, with their siren-kid emergency voices, that any extra loud noise ruins a conversation on a phone. 

I have to say to myself over and over and over, "I'm allowed to have a phone call."

They inevitably shake their heads and say, "no," or, "not right now! I NEED you!" and they stick that knife in your heart and twist it a bit.

Oh my God. They need me. That's like waving a full crack pipe in front of an addict when you are a Mom. I MUST fulfill as many needs as possible! I must!

So, again, my adultnappers get to me with a diversionary tactic straight out of Quantico. Where do they get these amazing techniques?

I still try to have conversations, but I've found that texting was definitely created by a parent. It's short, happens when you have a second, and consistency isn't necessary. Thank you for texting.

3. I get to use the bathroom ... ALONE.

Now this is true. My kids are now too old (in my opinion) to allow them into the bathroom with me. I do try to teach them boundaries to carry out into the larger world and this is one of them. It also started to creep me out when they asked very specific questions about things a few years ago, things I'd never even thought about until it came out of their little mouths.

Like I said, they're way smarter than I am. 

I do get to go into the bathroom alone, but of course, any length of time cuts short, inevitably. The list above applies to this situation as well. Too bad for them I can hear them better; too bad for me I can't hear my own thoughts like I am hoping when I go to the bathroom.

I love my children dearly. I wouldn't trade them for anything, ever. However, when did we allow our children to hold us hostage until their teen years when they only want us part-time? My parents were not this entangled in my life. I didn't shower with them or have them in the room when I took a bath when I was five (probably even younger, but that is the age I remember doing it alone).

We are so afraid of anything happening to our children that it is like a hostage situation (I'm included in this category). We're conditioned (not everyone, but enough of us) to over-parent, over-watch, and micro-manage. If I'm not micro-managing my kids, I feel like they may die or get seriously hurt. 

I think part of this is our lack of community feeling. I think people watched out for each other more "back in the day." Our parents or grandparents could count on other adults guiding our children if they saw kids doing something dangerous or just plain awful.

Now we are so inside our own heads and worried about ourselves and our kids, we have nothing left for anyone else. I'm working on this myself.

When a child comes to my house, I know what they are doing and if they are okay. I treat them as my own if they are near or with me, and I've told other parents that. If I'm at a playground and I see other kids there, I'm watching them as much as my own kids.

We are a community, we just forget. So, let's remember. Let me help your child if they need it, and please help mine. They are all the children of our world. I truly believe that and I work to live that every day.

How about you? What do you think? We are all responsible for all of the children of our community. We are all meant to help one another.

Wow, I had no idea that this article would end up discussing our need for community. I feel strongly about needing communities. However, I was planning to write something that made me laugh. I love it when something that entertains me ends up in a completely different place.

We need to trust our guts more, for our own children and others. Please reach out to kids that you see needing help. Don't send your child into something that your gut says is not right. Yes, there are a few awful people out there, but there are many more who are kind and loving, but afraid of being sued or upsetting an overprotective parent. If we work together, we do not have to do it alone.

Side note: I can't really actually comment on the teen years yet, as I've not lived them. If there is one thing I've learned, it's that you can't really know until you've lived it in parenting. No one can tell you, or explain it enough to truly understand.

Happy parenting!


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