BY JANEEN LEWIS
I grabbed my “Carried Away” shower gel and told 7-year old Andrew to watch four-year-old Gracie, and to knock on the door in case of an emergency.
All I wanted was a shower. A long, uninterrupted morning shower like the ones I took before I had children who come out of the woodwork at the sound of water running in the master bathroom. It’s like my kids have specialized internal radars that tell them when I am in the bathroom alone. These radars also prompt them to get hurt, want a snack or start World War III with a sibling – all when I am in the shower. It never fails.
I know, I know. To have a shower of solitude, all I have to do is put in ear plugs and lock the bathroom door. The Shower Diva, the not-so-perfect angel who sits on my left shoulder, often tells me this. However, Safety Freak Mom, the goody-two-shoes angel who sits on my right shoulder appeals to my naturally guilty complex with, “What if your kids need you, and they can’t get to you?”
But one day, when I was tired of breaking up quarrels over all-important things like, for example, who really owned a piece of Scotch tape, I decided to get a little crazy and shake things up. If this meant locking the kids out of the bathroom, so be it. Unfortunately, I didn’t get so crazy that I put in ear plugs. Live and learn.
I grabbed my “Carried Away” shower gel and told 7-year old Andrew to watch 4-year-old Gracie, and to knock on the door in case of an emergency. I explained that emergencies involve bleeding or poisoning, NOT whose turn it is to play a game at NickJr.com
or watch a show on Netflix Kids
The first minute in the shower was glorious. Then I heard a noise. The Shower Diva said, “Ignore it. They’re fine.”
Safety Freak Mom said, “What if one of them is hurt?” I stayed put. But as I got to my favorite part of the shower, the part where I lather shampoo into my hair with all the ecstasy of a woman in an Herbal Essence commercial, I heard the noise again. There was a commotion somewhere in the house – I could feel it in my Mom bones. I turned the shower off.
“Andrew, is something wrong?”
He answered, but he might as well have been Charlie Brown’s teacher. I couldn’t understand a word he said, so I stepped out of the shower onto the bath mat, every pore of my skin (and The Shower Diva) shrieking at the chilly air. I cracked the door.
“Andrew, is everything okay?”
“NO!” He yelled. “Gracie is getting up on the stove!”
In every mom’s life, there is a time for nerves of steel. I pray for them daily, my own SOS to God, for occasions such as computer crashes and cat throw-up on new carpet.
Then there is a time for unbridled panic. This was one of those times.
“Gracie, get down! You might get hurt!” I yelled as I yanked the towel off the rack and whipped it around me. I ran down the hall, slipping on the hardwood floor while Safety Freak Mom scolded, “What were you thinking? She’s practically still an infant!”
As I slid past the kids’ bathroom, I could see out of the corner of my eye, and I skidded to a stop, confused. Both children stood in the bathroom, and while yes, I am a multitasker, no, I have not yet installed a stove in the bathroom. Andrew blocked Gracie from the sink with his whole body. Arms outstretched, he shielded her from – gasp! – the soap dispenser. Exasperated, he turned to me and said, “Gracie is using up all the soap!”
From my heavenly little enclave in the back of the house I’d heard, “Gracie is getting up on the stove!”
Unfazed by the fact that I wore only a bath towel and a not-so-happy expression, Andrew continued pleading his case.
“She got three pumps instead of one!”
Gracie gave me a mischievous grin.
I took a very deep breath. I was kind of glad Safety Freak Mom was with me. She gently coaxed, “Step away from the children, and no one gets hurt.”
As I stood dripping in my towel, I knew the “stove” versus “soap” miscommunication would be really funny to me the next day.
But that day, as I turned and walked slowly down the hall to get dressed, I wondered if I would take an uninterrupted shower this decade.
I sighed and sent my daily SOS heavenward.
Janeen Lewis is a freelance journalist and mother of two. She has been published in several Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, including The Mom’s Multitasking Survival Guide. She is yet to have an uninterrupted shower this decade.