You are not alone. You may think you are the only one whose kids don’t let you talk on the phone or pee alone, but I am here to assure you these are five universal, immutable truths:
- The Parched Phenomenon: We have made it to bedtime. We are so close to the finish line: a glass of wine, the couch, an adult conversation, a television show without inane theme songs or primary colors. Suddenly, every child is overcome with unspeakable thirst. They cannot live. They will not survive the night. And while they’re at it, maybe they also need a banana and another story, and it’s probably time to ask a deep, theological, existential question, or retell every event of the day. It’s bedtime; we are helpless against it.
- The Clean Floor Phenomenon: By some miracle we find time to clean the house. We know clean bathrooms and clean floors go a long way toward making us feel like we have our you-know-what together. But then we wonder if it is worth it, because the second we mop the floor our children’s hands will become incapable of holding anything. Juice and milk will become unpourable; goldfish will become animated creatures incapable of staying in a bowl, only to be stepped on the moment they hit the pristine tile. We knew that instinct to live in filth had merit.
- The Bathroom Phenomenon: Everyone is occupied with a task or a television show, or they are miraculously getting along and happy. We look around and realize this is my moment. I can go to the bathroom alone. How arrogant. How foolish. We know that even if we slink to the bathroom on our bellies, they will sense a change in the atmosphere, they will notice our scent is not as strong, and they will find us. They will bang on the door; they will stick their tiny fingers under the slit by the floor in an attempt to touch us, and they will inevitably ask, “What are you doing?” What they really mean is, “Why did you go to the bathroom without meeee?”
- The Where-is-Mommy Phenomenon: We slip into our bedroom to take a shower, or to lie down for twenty minutes. It’s Saturday, Daddy’s home, and he can take care of the kids. But then he goes to the bathroom, or he goes outside, or he starts a project in the garage, and they decide, “Daddy looks busy, we should leave him alone.” You hear them walking through the halls, “Where’s mom?” “Anybody seen mom?” “Moooooooooom.”
- The Telephone Phenomenon: This one is so consistent and so universal that we are all completely reticent to even answer a ringing telephone. Something happens in the space-time continuum when a mother answers the phone. Suddenly, children who were content only moments before are rendered helpless and miserable. Siblings rage in new and profound ways with one another; resentment that’s been building suddenly bubbles to the surface and cannot be stopped; balls must be bounced; television shows must be turned to deafening volumes; everyone is instantly starving, hurting, or in desperate need of the bathroom. There’s nothing we can do to stop it. Step into another room? They will find you. Go outside? They will follow you with recorders and whistles in tow. There is no resisting it. This is why we text.
Next time you are tempted to think you are the only one who deals with these immutable laws of motherhood, take a minute to text a friend; you are not the only one hiding in your closet to get five minutes to yourself.