I Stole My Kids' Bath ... And Made a Clean Getaway

I’m often torn about the rap we stay-at-home moms get, specifically about the “letting go of ourselves” cliche.  There’s the image of us at home all day in our pajamas, or running errands in our slippers with spit-up on our shirts and not so much as a brush having been run through our hair.

I bristle at this partly because I don’t want anyone to think I’ve “let myself go,” and partly because it’s, um, sometimes true. There are days I don’t take a shower. (Gasp!) There are days I remember at 3 p.m. that I never brushed my teeth that morning.

Being a stay-at-home parent — really, a parent in general — is all about compromise. You don’t have to let yourself go, but you do have to let go of some things. This morning I let go of a shower in favor of squeezing in a workout while the boys were happily playing drums and watching TV. But then right afterward we got busy building a giant race track, and then there were lunches to make, eat and clean up, books to read and naps to take. And while they slept, I worked; as soon as I hung up the phone from doing an interview for a story I’m working on, Evan woke up.

Before I knew it it was 7:45 p.m. and I was still in my workout clothes, unshowered, a fact I’d honestly completely forgotten until I wandered into the bathroom and noticed the nice big bubble bath Chris had just drawn for the boys. Their plastic boats and foam letters were floating amid Johnson & Johnson baby bubbles, and I could see their little blue mat on the bottom of the tub. My first thought was one of mild regret, realizing I had missed my window of opportunity to grab a shower before their bath and bedtime routine started. I glanced at the clock and sighed, knowing I’d have wet hair at 10 p.m. at the rate the night was going.

But as I stood looking longingly at the bubbles, I could hear the boys happily playing downstairs. Completely engrossed in their cars and toy garage, they hadn’t heard Chris call to them that it was bath time. And since Chris had school work to do, he’d handed over his usual bath time duties to me and was already buried in his laptop in the living room.

I had two choices: I could go herd them upstairs to take their bath, or I could take their bath.

I probably stared at that water for another 20 seconds before kicking off my sneakers (and everything else), ever-so-quietly closing the door, and climbing in. I pushed aside boats and ducks and plastic fishermen and sank back into the bubbles.

It felt fantastic.

It wasn’t one of those hourlong, candlelit, book-in-one-hand-and-wine-glass-in-the-other bubble baths, but it still felt totally indulgent. Like I was cheating the system. Getting one over on my own chaotic life.

Finally, a parental compromise that felt more like a win.