Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Fortress of Solitude

I have recently realized something: I am never going to be really alone in the bathroom again.

When I was about 22, I moved into a miniscule apartment in downtown Minneapolis. It was the first time I'd ever lived alone--no roommates, no parents, no nothing. Just me and 200 or so square feet. So I immediately went out and got a cat--apparently it was vital that I start living up to crazy-cat-lady stereotypes right away. Many things happened, of course, when I was living in that apartment. The battery on my phone died as I was talking to my dad after I'd only been living there a few days, and he sped the entire half hour from his house, to come make sure I was okay. I sublet my apartment to a coworker and moved to LA for three months (three of the most painful months ever, but that's another story). I met the man who would become my husband. And I learned to pee with the door open.

Now, as a woman, and a pretty self-conscious one at that, closing the door when I entered the bathroom was kind of a requirement. But if you've ever had a kitten who was somewhat over attached to you, you know what happens if you try to close the bathroom door. First comes the whining, then the scratching, then the incredibly pathetic little paw starts feeling around under the door, trying to figure out where you've gone and how to get you back. So rather than dealing with that every time I wanted to go to the bathroom, I started just leaving the door open. It was an incredibly freeing development in my life. I even started wandering around my apartment (sometimes) naked (partly). I couldn't turn into a free-thinking nudist overnight, but it was a big change for me nonetheless.

Of course, when I met my husband, I realized that I was still the kind of person who would prefer to close the door. I can live with a cat wandering around the sink while I pee, but I can't be one of those "I'm on the toilet while you're brushing your teeth and we're both fine with this" people. We moved in together a few months after I got back from LA, and while we were living together, his father stayed with us for several weeks after he had a stroke. He moved back into his own apartment later, but when we decided to buy a house, we concluded that having him move in with us was a good idea for everyone involved. Another reason to be a "bathroom door closed" kind of person.

Now we've come to a point I probably could not have envisioned when I was trying to get the cat to leave the bathroom door alone. My father-in-law's bedroom is across the hall from the bathroom. I have three small children who apparently cannot exist unless they are interacting with me in some way. I usually have a house full of other people's children, who are in all likelihood fighting with one or more of my kids. And the bathroom door? Well, until recently, I was convinced it was the one thing separating me--just for a few minutes--from all that. Right? I don't get to take leisurely baths; I don't even get showers without a 5-year-old suddenly needing to potty the second I turn the water on. I don't have a commute to complain about the other drivers while secretly enjoying this time that doesn't belong to my family or my employer. I don't have a bedroom to disappear to; while I do officially have a bedroom, it's shared by our daughter until the addition to the house is complete. So I am not out of line to expect that I get to go potty without interruption.

Except it seems that I am. One of the things about the blogosphere is that it's like having lots and lots of mom friends, and you can ask them anything you want or listen to them rant about anything they want, as though you had this endless back fence you can talk over anytime you want. And one thing I keep running up against is that no mom in the world can claim that she is left alone in the bathroom. There is always a kid who needs you the very moment you close the door, a dog who is scratching at the door, a spouse who doesn't understand that maybe you don't want to answer any questions right now.

I know that someday my kids will want to be left alone, that I will not think of the bathroom as the only place in the house I can hide. Someday I will miss them. I will bug them in their rooms when they just want to close the door and be left alone for a little while. I know that I ought to cherish these years, when they just want to be near me. But inside, I will grieve for the bathroom I once knew, the place I could think my thoughts, my onetime fortress of solitude.


LuLu and Moxley's Mom said...

I was the most closed-door bathroom person on the planet. Until kids. Now I'm like, "Mommy's going to go to the potty, want to come?" But I draw the line of leaving it open in front of the husband. Some lines shouldn't be crossed...

Kami Lewis Levin said...

I've been thinking about this issue alot lately. My solution is: I really enjoy the privacy of the bathroom at work and use it frequently. It makes the group trip to the bathroom at home much more tolerable.

BabyonBored said...

I just to go to the bathroom on the sly like some kind of spy on a stealth mission. Sometimes it works and sometimes it's good I don't work for the government.