It’s 7:00 AM on Election Day. John has the day off, but I have to teach for a few hours this morning. My girls don’t have school. They are both still sound asleep. I have plenty of time to get ready, so I’ve decided to take this opportunity to enjoy a long hot shower.
The water flowing over me. My eyes closed. Getting lost in thought. Thinking about the classes I’ll be teaching today. Planning and scheming how our family might spend the afternoon. Thinking about how nice it would be to spend some time with Ewan McGregor. Lost in deep, deep thought, when suddenly I am startled back to reality.
“Hey!” Shannon says loudly outside of the curtain.
“Ooh- you scared me! You should knock first.”
“Oh sorry,” she says “I’m only here for the steam.”
She has had a bit of a chest cold for the past week or so and is here for the steam.
“Why are you even awake?”
” I heard the water running. I’ll just sit here quietly.”
Sigh. So much for Ewan.
Showers are a a luxury since I had kids. I can remember shortly after Maggie was born wondering how the heck I was ever going to take a shower again.
At first, I brought her into the bathroom with me in her car seat. I sat her down on the floor. And I peeked out of the curtain every ten seconds. The entire shower lasted about four minutes. Five if I decided to shave my legs.
Then she progressed to the exersaucer. It was sort of like a walker, but it stayed still. It was too big for our tiny bathroom so I placed her right outside of the open door. I kept the curtain open just enough so I could see straight out into the hallway. Peeking out to watch her playing, Singing songs to her and making eye contact to let her know I was right there. Still, the showers lasted five minutes if I was lucky. And there was no solitude, no time to get lost in thought.
When she became mobile a gate went up at the top of the stairs. I would sit her in my bed and tell her to watch tv for a few minutes. I tilted the bedroom door just the right amount so that I could see the full length mirror from the shower. When I looked out through the shower curtain, I could see her reflection. Sitting on the bed. Watching the Berenstain Bears. I called out every so often to make sure she was all right. And if I lost sight of her or didn’t get a response I would walk out of the shower dripping wet, covered in soap, to find her happily playing with a stuffed animal on the floor in front of the bed.
“What are we going to do today?” Shannon asks me.
“I thought you were going to be quiet?” I say to her. “You know, pay no attention to the lady behind the curtain?”
And just as she starts to respond I feel a cold draft. The door has opened. Again.
“I need to poop” Maggie says. “And Daddy is in the bathroom downstairs.’
Sigh. My life.
“But I’m sitting here.” Shannon says. “I need the steam. ”
“Just move to the radiator,” I instruct her.
Now they are both in here. So much for that long hot relaxing shower.
They start talking about the posts they are reading on tumblr and instagram. To me.
Talking to me. Hey Mom, this. and Hey Mom, that. This was supposed to be my quiet time!
Once, when they were about four and six years old I was taking a shower. They were playing Barbies in their room. I left the bathroom door open a crack just in case there was some sort of Barbie War that I had to mediate. It was one of the first chilly days of the season, so the bathroom window was closed. Our smoke detector is on the ceiling just outside of the bathroom door. And it is, as I learned that day, very sensitive to steam.
As I was shampooing my hair and enjoying a brief moment of solitude, the alarm began to sound. So loudly! And I freaked out!
Where are the girls? Is there a fire? What is going on? Not realizing the whole steam sensitivity thing in the moment, I thought it might be a real emergency.
Holy shit. A fireman’s wife, left her kids alone while she selfishly took a shower, and they set the house on fire!
I jumped out of the shower, wrapped a towel around myself, ran to the girls room, and tried to open the door. It was locked! It’s never locked!
“Open the door! Open the door!”
“Open the door, dammit!”
I tried with all my might to break the door open, to no avail. Then I ran to the alarm keypad in my bedroom and entered the code to stop the alarm. My wet hands slipped and entered the wrong number. The siren kept sounding. It was so freakin’ loud!
I tried the keypad again, and I could hear the phone ringing. The alarm company! I looked in the cradle and the phone wasn’t there. Standing, dripping in the middle of the room. Trying to hear the location of the phone over the sound of the siren.
The Siren. Stop the damn siren! I entered the correct number on the key pad and the alarm stopped. I frantically ran around the room until I found the phone, but it was too late. I knew it was too late. The firemen were probably on the way to our house already. John’s coworkers. And here I am. Naked!
Clothes!! I need clothes! Hurry hurry hurry hurry! No time for underwear! Pants!
I grabbed a pair of jeans from my dresser and tried to get them on. It’s not so easy to put jeans on when your legs are dripping with water. The first leg got in all right, but as I hopped to wiggle my second leg in, I fell flat on the floor banging my head on the dresser on the way down and throwing my back out as I landed.
Lying on the floor in pain, I began to scream “Girls open the door! RIGHT NOW. Hurry up! The fireman are coming! The firemen are on their way!”
I got up from the floor and ran to their door, just as they were opening it. Standing in front of them dripping wet, topless, with the towel now on my head, yelling “We have to go downstairs!”
I could hear the sounds from John’s fire radio downstairs. Calling out my address. I could hear the engine’s siren screaming down my street. I grabbed for the first thing I saw, my daughter’s robe hanging on the back of the door, and I wrapped it around my torso.
“Let’s go! Let’s go! Hurry!” I yelled.
We made it to the bottom of the stairs just as the doorbell rang. I quickly opened the door and stepped outside. A child’s robe wrapped around my upper body, a towel on my head, a look of sheer terror on my face.
The lieutenant looked at me and smiled, and shook his head. He held his radio up to his face and said “It’s just Redstone’s wife, taking a shower.”
“Could you repeat that?” someone on the other end replied.
Oh, dear god no, don’t repeat it.
“Redstone’s wife. She was taking a shower and set the alarm off.”
Yes. Yes I did. Because of those damn kids… Sigh.
As soon as we were back in the house, I went upstairs and I broke the lock on the girls’ door. That fixed that problem.
Occasionally now, I can take a peaceful shower. And I know that someday, in the not so distant future, our nest will be empty. All too soon, when those days come, I will take long luxurious showers. I might even take a bath every now and then.
And when I do I will long for these days. I will wish the door would open. I will miss the startling sound of “Hey!” and “I have to poop.”
So I will try to enjoy these moments. This moment.
”Ewww. Flush the toilet. That stinks.”
”You can leave if it stinks! Tell her mom, she can leave.Tell her to leave.”
“You can both leave, you know?!”
Some day they will both leave.