Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I Only Want to Pee Alone

That's a cover song for Housewives on Prozac, or HOP, a Connecticut-based rock band made up of six hip, and apparently anti-depressed housewives. I've never actually listened to their songs, but all it took was that title to make me a fan.

When I was a newlywed one of my visiting teachers was a mother of four young children. During a visit I chatted with her companion, an older single woman, about wistful things we wanted to do like tour Europe, open quaint bookstores with pottery studios in the back, and write inspirational poetry. We paused and looked at the weary woman nearly napping in my easy chair. “Me?” she asked. “I just want to poo in private.” I looked at her companion and then back at her. “Really,” she said.

That poor woman, I remember thinking. And then, like many people who have never had children before, I made a promise to myself that I would eventually break: I will never be like that (along with 'My children will never act like that in public,' and 'I will never be like my mother.' Yep, all broken.).

Cut to six years later. I'm in the bathroom with the door closed (unfortunately the doors in our early 20th-century home do not lock), having a very private moment when my son barges in. “Mom,” he says. “Leah told me I'm silly.” I look at him and wonder why he doesn't recognize the sanctity of this moment. How can he complain to me about his sister's acute recognition of his silliness while I'm, excuse me for being vulgar, stinking up the bathroom.

“Kaleb,” I say. “Can you wait in the living room until mommy's done?”

“Why?” he asks.

“Because mommy wants to go to the bathroom by herself.”

“Why?” he asks, yet again.

At this moment I'm beyond reasoning. I'd sacrifice a lot for motherhood, but that particular moment wasn't negotiable. I push him out the door and hold it closed with a surprisingly strong and supple foot. He pounds on the door, wailing, “Mom! Don't lock me out!”

This was a weak mothering-moment for me, I'll admit. I yelled through the door, “Mommy wants to be alone right now.” And then in a voice from the exorcist, “LEAVE ME ALONE!”

As frightening as that was for my son it hasn't secured me bathroom privacy. It's only let him know that one can actually close the door when going to the bathroom (an act not modeled by his father. Sorry, honey.).

And maybe, I wonder, I'm actually modeling the intrusive behavior myself. I'd guess that I spend about half my days in the bathroom - making sure Kaleb uses toilet paper, coaxing Leah to sit on the toilet, cleaning up countless misses with Clorox wipes, and chasing Zack from what he thinks is his own personal water fountain. No wonder my children think the boudoir is an extension of the livingroom; we might as well have a block party in there.

So I guess until our bathroom matures into a private retreat, I'll hold it until my kids are asleep. And along with my dreams of becoming a syndicated columnist and writing the great American novel, I'll keep believing that one day I'll pee alone.