6: Time for a Shower

6: Time for a Shower

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

Time for a Shower

Mirth is God’s medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it.

~Henry Ward Beecher

With a newborn and two toddlers, I was a mess. No one had bathed in three days. I couldn’t seem to get the house clean. There were dishes in the sink and toys everywhere. To top it all off, we were having guests that evening.

Thankfully, naptime was coming. That blessed time when all three little girls would lay their heads down and become perfect sleeping creatures with angelic faces. If I could get them all to sleep, I might be rewarded with enough solitary time to get the dishes done and take a shower. Oh, the luxury of a shower without interruption.

I managed to feed the children a fairly healthy lunch and corralled them all up the stairs into their bedrooms. After being rocked in the rocking chair, my newborn, Anna, fell right to sleep.

One down, two to go.

I then cuddled my two-year-old, Kait. I sang her a lullaby, all the while dreaming about my shower and a clean house. Kait fell asleep with little protest.

Then came my three-year-old, Emilia. She wanted to talk instead of sleep. I kept hushing her, reminding her she needed her sleep so she wouldn’t be tired when our guests arrived. She finally stilled. I snuck out of her room and back downstairs. I waited at the foot of the stairs, listening to see if little feet would follow me.

Silence.

Not sure how long my good luck would last, I practically ran to the bathroom and started the water. Steam filled the tiny room. I pulled the curtain aside to step in when the quiet knock sounded on the door.

I was so close! The door opened, and there was Emilia with her curly blond hair, big blue eyes and precious little grin.

“You takin’ a shower, Mamma?” She swung the door back and forth in its frame, letting all the warm air out of the bathroom.

“I was trying to,” I sighed.

“Can I get in the shower?”

I considered her question, but she really needed to take a nap or she would become a whiny monster later. “I’m sorry, lovey, but you need to rest right now. I’ll get you washed up after your nap.”

“I don’t want to nap.” Her face instantly changed as her lower lip stuck out. She crossed her arms and stomped her foot, and then let out a loud, disheartened cry.

My mind raced. If she wakes her sisters, I won’t get this shower. I won’t get time to clean house. I’m so very tired from being up with her baby sister. My shoulders started to clench.

“Emilia, watch your voice. You’re being too loud for naptime.” I rubbed her back, trying to ensure the quiet that would still allow me to shower.

“Why do you always need to be alone?” She wiped her tears. Her nose started to run.

If only she understood how little time I actually had alone. “I need time to bathe myself, time to think about how to get the house in order, and to make sure you and your sisters get cleaned up before our guests get here.” Just saying out loud all I had to do before the guests arrived, my chest tightened with an overwhelming stress. I helped her wipe her nose as I guided her back upstairs to her room.

Downstairs, I sprinted back toward the shower determined to feel like a clean human being again. I stepped quickly into the shower and lathered my hair to a sudsy mess. The water turned from warm to cold then to steaming hot. Someone had flushed the toilet upstairs. I rinsed my hair and jumped out of the shower.

From upstairs, I heard Emilia and Kait. Oh great, now she woke up her sister.

Emilia’s little voice sounded clear as day. “You want a shower, Kait?”

We don’t have a shower in the upstairs bathroom so when I heard a large amount of water splash on the floor, I raced up the stairs two at a time. I found Emilia standing on the bathroom stool next to the toilet, dipping the hand towel into the toilet bowl and holding it over Kait’s head for another shower. I was too late to stop the toilet shower. I watched as Kait was drenched from head to toe in toilet water, mouth open, grinning like a fool. There was already a large puddle around her feet, covering the floor and snaking into the hallway from previous showering.

“Emilia! What are you doing?” I stared at both girls, who clapped and played in the water.

“You were worried about baths.” Emilia patted my leg with a damp hand, and in total confidence stated, “Now Kait is clean.”

I could have blown a fuse or broken down in exhausted tears. Both seemed practical, but instead, a laugh bubbled up from somewhere inside of my tired body. My shoulders relaxed, and my chest loosened. The stress I had felt just seconds before dissipated. “Okay, girls, let’s go get you a real shower.”

My children were cleaned as well as the bathroom floor. My house was still a mess when my guests came to visit, but at least my kids were bathed — and not by toilet water this time. Over the years, there have been plenty of stressful times like that day, but I’ve learned to let laughter wash the stress away.

~Sarah Shipley

More stories from our partners