Calgon take me away? To the nut house maybe.
Whereas kids have no end of opportunities to get themselves into hot water, a mother finds it nigh on impossible to do the same.
While I do shower daily (I promise), I don’t dare attempt a long, hot bath more than once or twice a year – tops. It’s far too stressful and would inevitably lead to the need for more long hot baths, thus necessitating an endless cycle of stress until I collapsed from the strain.
As a mother, taking a bath isn’t just an experience in cleanliness; it’s an adventure in preparedness and evasion tactics worthy of Armed Forces.
Long, hot soaks in a bubble-filled tub are the stuff of romance novels and Hollywood fantasies. No resemblance to any experience real or imagined is expressed or implied.
Location. First: Find the tub!
Somewhere underneath the detritus of bathtub toys, including but not limited to a floating armada of action figures, a pirate ship, and a naked Barbie doll, there is rumored to be an actual bathing receptacle capable of holding water.
At the moment, however, it’s rather like a Hollywood movie set in there with all the swashbuckling heroes and exposed, plastic flesh.
Second: Draw the bath.
The thunder of water into the now empty tub sends a signal far and wide that draws my offspring (and spouse) like cats to a tuna can.
“Knock-knock” isn’t a joke when it’s the ceaseless banging upon the door of little (and not so little) people drawn, inexplicably, to need to know – right now! – why Mommy must insist (selfishly, they think) upon being alone?
Third: Exhaust all efforts at reason and the positive effects of Mommy’s remaining sane, and simply kick everyone out of the bathroom.
Just a minute. Having turned away the last uninvited guest – but alas, not the cat – from tub side, I can sink – finally! – into the frothy bliss of a tubful of hot bubbles.
This deep, restorative relaxation lasts for nearly a full minute.
I’m startled straight up by the burning sting of my left knee, already beading a bright streak of blood where the cat – bless his heart – has opened a 3-inch scratch across my flesh.
He blinks coolly at me from his perch on the edge of the tub and proceeds to take a swipe at my ankle – and the bubbles that cling to it. Stupid beast.
I splash from the tub and over to the bathroom door (impaling my foot on a small plastic pirate in the process) and scoot him through it.
This, unfortunately, draws the attention of our younger child, who shouts up from the kitchen stairs: “Guess what? I can pour my pop myself Mommy!”
Then, minutes later just as I am attempting to get past the “foreword” in the novel I foolishly believed I might read sometime in this lifetime: “Mommy, do we have any more towels? I used all the ones down here!”
Do I want to know? No!
Finally, the door shut firmly on cat, kids, and all manner of household flooding, I am bent on making this bath relaxing even if it kills me.
Electrified. Speaking of which, I sink back into the rapidly cooling water and contemplate turning on the whirlpool jets of the Jacuzzi tub.
This is not the obvious choice you might think.
As an admitted freak, I have a hard time getting past the idea of a bathtub that is powered by electricity.
Doesn’t that go against every home safety warning we ever learned anywhere? Why not just juggle knives or guzzle bleach while we are in there?
Yet, there I am with a tub that plugs, electrically I mean.
I can’t help but imagine, each time I push the button to power up the jetted tub, that this it the day the faulty connection will electrocute me as I bathe.
Having now spent a relaxing few minutes contemplating my own bathing-related demise, I can move on to wondering why it is suddenly too quiet outside the door.
Silence unsettles. At least when they are banging on the knob I know where they (and all the spills) are. The sounds of silence are deeply unsettling.
Heaving myself back out of the tub I pull the stopper, scoop toys back into the tub, mop up the water splashed in the cat eviction, and remember anew why I don’t do this more often.
When it comes to long, hot baths, the idea of Mom actually relaxing is simply all wet.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt still has the shape of a tiny pirate embedded in her left arch. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)