By Kayleigh Rahn
I don’t know when children begin to collect memories, but I hope Nora didn’t initiate the yesteryear corner of her brain this week.
The luster of Mother’s Day had come and gone. William was on second shift. Bath time was near.
On typical nights William runs Nora’s bath while I clean up the kitchen after dinner. I then do the lotion and PJ routine while he tidies the bathroom following the splish-splashing bubble fun. However, when William works second shift, Nora and I head to town for dinner with my parents. It’s a simple routine, and I enjoy it.
While at my parents’ house this evening a macaroni and cheese side dish doubled as the season’s latest in toddler hair fashion, which called for a full scrub down before heading home.
Years ago my parents ditched the full bathtub in lieu of more storage in the bathroom, so for nearly 15 years they’ve had only a walk-in shower. A great transition until you consider bath time with a toddler. My Mom quickly remedied the dilemma with a plastic storage tub placed in the bottom of the shower and a small Minnie Mouse bathmat. It’s not exactly picturesque, but it’s efficient. And Nora loves it. #GrandmaWin.
Bath time began as planned. Run the water to warm it up. Test it 1,000 times before stripping the child. Check the diaper for a dirty surprise before trashing it and dunk the babe.
Easy. Simple. I got this.
That was until I heard something “plop” into the tub just as Nora’s toes hit the water.
Alarm ran through my body.
Before I could stop her downward motion into the soiled tub, Nora was proudly sitting on the pink Minnie bathmat that was now contaminated. She smiled ear to ear–blissfully unaware of the blunder her mother just committed–as she reached for her dirtied bath toys and began what may be her favorite time of the day. She then sloshed the dreaded, dirty water around the glass walls of the shower.
As my brain registered what had transpired I panicked. I ripped her out of the tub as an ear-shattering scream came from my child. This was an offense of the highest degree–a shortened bath time.
I tried to stand her slippery body on the shower floor as she attempted to dive back into the water. She slipped.
Her butt hit the bottom of the shower and more tears followed.
My Mom (thank goodness for Moms) came in for the assist.
I quickly explained what happened as I attempted to put Nora back on her feet, which she suddenly forgot how to use.
“Hand her to me; I’ll rinse her in the sink,” my mom said as she made a move over my shoulder for the tub. I shifted to hand Nora to my mom. But she wasn’t referring to the child. Instead she had requested Minnie, the soiled bathmat. Nora, who thought she was being rescued by her Grandma, was left to shiver, wet and nude, as I, her dysfunctional mom, attempted to resolve the dirty water issue. Bigger tears started to flow down the poor girl’s cheeks.
My mom took the bathmat out of the dirty water and scrubbed it down as I calmed Nora and successfully found a safe, warm place for her to stand while I drained, rinsed, and refilled the tub. However, as I made my move to do a final rinse of the tub, Nora, who was calmly standing off my right leg, took one step toward me.
She was knocked to her tummy by my hip. A pale starfish struggled on the linoleum floor with her dirty butt on display for all to see. #MomFail. I dropped the handheld showerhead I was using to rinse the now clean tub. The water stream sprayed directly into my face, turning my makeup into a raccoon-eyed mask and soaking my already soiled clothes. In a quick struggle, the showerhead was corralled, the water was turned off, and I swooped Nora into a towel, cleaned her up, and started again.
With a clean tub, a clean Minnie bath mat, and a dried bathroom we started again, and the bath was successful–eventually.
I felt depleted. Motherhood is hard.
After a clean and happy Nora was tucked into her crib at home I collapsed into our oversized chair. She seems no worse for the wear; she still loves bath time, I told myself. I don’t believe she’s traumatized, although time will tell I suppose.
William called on his dinner break, and I recounted the drama in great detail with a lot of laughter.
If one day she happens to register a memory of this fateful night, I hope it’s filled with all the laughter and love and a little less of the drama.