All three kids are actually in bed by 8 p.m. So instead of just flopping into bed, exhausted, I decide to take a bath.
About 10 solid seconds of sheer bliss transpire before I hear the hinge squeak. It briefly crosses my mind that it could be a serial killer. But I'm too relaxed to give a crap.
It's worse than I thought. The 6 year old.
"Aren't you supposed to be in bed?"
"I have to poop."
"Ok, go downstairs. Mommy's taking a bath."
The boys know we don't like them to use their bathroom if their baby sister is sleeping. When water goes through the pipes between the bathroom and her wall it sounds like a fighter jet scrambling in the sky.
"No, I want to go in here."
"Well you can't. Mommy's having a relaxing bath."
"Nnnnnnoooooooooooooooo." He whines suddenly. "I'm not going downstairs".
Silence. I am too catatonic to respond.
I hear the sound of him positioning his potty seat.
He quietly goes about his business. For a moment I actually forget that he's there as I return to luxuriating in the bath. But his stank quickly surrounds me.
Which makes the relaxation part of my bath rather difficult, since trying not to breathe is the exact opposite of trying to relax.
So I breathe.
Because I am f*****g relaxing.
And indeed I do begin to relax again.
"Why do you only have one boob?"
"What makes you think I only have ONE boob? You know I have TWO boobs."
"Well I thought you had two, but how come I only see one?"
Oh. No. He. Didn't.
"Well you can probably only see one right now because the other one's hiding."
"Where's it hiding?"
"In the water."
Deeper breaths now.
"Because it wants to be warm."
I don't tell him that the real reason it's "hiding" is because his baby sister has sucked the fucking life out of it. My boobs... no wait... who am I kidding. Her boobs are so tired and winded that one of them has literally slid with exhaustion down and around the side of my body.
He seems to accept my answer.
Glad to have moved on, I again release myself to the comfort of the bath. A few moments later I know he must be wrapping things up because I hear the crinkly sound of the flushable wipe packaging. The final phase. I'm almost home free.
"Uh-oh" he says.
"We're out of wipes."
"You need to get more, Mommy."
"I'm in the bath. You get more."
"I can't. My tushy's still dirty. I'll get poop everywhere."
Sure there's a small chance a mishap could happen. I'm more then willing to risk it.
But getting this kid to budge is like pushing a door when you're supposed to pull. It doesn't get you very far.
I close my eyes and actually pray to God for strength.
"Okay" I say. "Hand me some toilet paper."
I lift my left arm out of the water and reach it behind me without looking. Cold winter air rushes around it. A brutal contrast from the warmth that just protected it seconds ago.
He slips the toilet paper into my hands. One tiny sheet. I quickly dip it into the bath water. It practically disintegrates. I hand it back to him anyhow.
"Here. Now wipe."
"I need more". He's already handing me the next sheet.
So I dip again. He wipes.
And again we make our exchange. He wipes.
And again. Wipe. Dip. Wipe. Dip. Wipe. Wipe. Wipe.
This back and forth continues for so many rounds it starts to feel normal.
Which it's not.
I can't take it anymore. My arm is freezing. And tired. And there are little pieces of toilet paper floating around me.
"Aren't you done yet?"
"Nope. Messy poop. Not even close to done."
Well I am.
Smiling, I get up, step out of the tub and push the drain release lever. Hugging my towel around both boobs, I gently tousle his hair and head down the hall to get a brand new package of wipes.