I sink up to my nose in a bubble bath…….ahhhhh, alas, privacy. I linger in the sweet scent of the fragrant bubbles that I never get to enjoy. I light the candle, the one I purchased just for a night like this! I listen to the sound of the soft music I had chosen, meant for purposes to unwind. One of the rare times I got to choose music preference, usually my music was limited to ABCs and Wheels On The Bus…..listening to my chosen music break the inviting silence, I remembered how much I loved music, accompanied by only my presence, the way the candle flickered, and the feeling of freedom. For this moment, I am free! I am not, for the present moment, Mommy, I am just April. Some days, especially like the one I had today; I forgot that my identity extended beyond being a mother. I leaned against the back of the tub, remembering that I am also me. With guilt, I realize, I miss being me. I only get glimpses of myself, when I have time to reflect on who I am. I take a slow pull from my ice cold, adult beverage, I had almost forgotten I was an adult! Oh the sweet rebellion of one singular drink as I soak in the bliss of aloneness! Sweet luxuries don’t happen like this often, I sigh into the steam of the bath, and ask myself if I had remembered to breathe that day, or had I been too busy to stop and simply catch my breath.
I take in oxygen, then slowly allow my head to sink under the water. I can hear the voice of John Legend, muted by the water surrounding my ears, but utterly beautiful. I emerge feeling baptized by the liquid washing over me. Here, for this moment, I am just me. The Mommy voice tries to sneak in, “You are enjoying this too much!” I silence her with another pull from my rebellious drink, but the thought still lingers. I feel guilt, damn it, stupid mommy voice, guilting me in my one few selfish moments. I drown myself in the music, letting it resonate the parts of me that stay buried all day. I am not a closet drinker, I am not a “drop your kids off all the timer,” I am not a “mother who despises her duties,” as a matter of fact, I relish in my childrens’ company, but sometimes I need to tap into that part of me that is more than a mom.
I shave my legs, without haste, relishing in the way it feels to be preened and the unhurried glide of the razor over my skin. I massage my hair with shampoo, intoxicated by the sense of just pampering myself. I condition my hair, I smell the sweet, fresh scent of the conditioner that I save only for moments like these. I exfoliate and scrub my flesh until it is free from all the grime of the day. Thoroughly clean now, I just linger. I don’t want to leave this peaceful little world, not just yet. The truth is, I need these rare moments, they help me remember I am human, I am still a woman, I am still April, and I still need to find my inner zen. There is an inner battle with the mommy in me and the guilt of simply being me.
Then a familiar tune sneaks through the speakers, one that the girls love, one they sing along to in the backseat, the one that makes their little eyes light up, the way their innocent voices sing the chorus, although the words aren’t precisely right. A grin stretches across my face. I find myself singing along joyously, dancing like they do when I peak at them through the rearview mirror, and I feel joy. Joy I wouldn’t have felt if I had not become a mommy! “You have amazing kids,” the mommy voice whispers, this time I don’t silence her, she is quite right. I do have amazing kids, they are funny, beautiful, charismatic, and full of life. They are also rambunctious, chaotic, loud, and at times overwhelming, but I love them with the deepest recesses I never thought possible!
I needed times like these, to remember all the chaos, the tears, the mommy, Mommy, MOMMY I need yous that hear all day, and to just be still for a moment. No needs to be met, no cups to fill, no toys to pick up, no fights to referee, no walls to clean crayons from, it is rejuvenating. You see, I need this to be a better mommy. I need to wash all the defeats of feeling like I am not good enough, that I failed to get my to do list done, how earlier I had lost my patience, the moment when I was too busy to play, and the sadness that reminds me in that Mommy voice, “They won’t be little long, enjoy it!” I enjoy my babies, with all my heart and soul. But there are times I feel defeated, I feel I am not enough, and I have to allow those lost battles to roll off me.
I am a Mommy, first, always first, and that makes me beam with pride. My children’s happiness ALWAYS comes before my own. I have to hold fast to myself sometimes, because the love I give to them is all-consuming, willing to sacrifice all of myself for them, but I know I must hold some tiny piece of myself. Not for self serving purposes, but so my girls truly know who I am. Being a mom is the biggest part of me but it isn’t my entire identity. When my babies grow to have babies of their own, I hope they find escape for a few moments, to realize their self worth is in both parenting and also just because of who they are individually. I hope they do this for their children, so they can be a better version of themselves.
I raise my hand, to run it through my wet, tousled hair. The balance is tough, for your children to be as vital to your life as the air you breathe, and somehow maintaining some time for self reflection. I glance at my now pruned fingers, my mind flashes memories of the girls’ wrinkled fingers after a long bath, and again I smile. My bath is not entirely for myself, it is to reflect on the miracles my girls on. I pull the plug and sit in the tub until the last drop of water slips down the drain, taking my troubles, my worries, my flaws, my downfalls, my not enoughs with it! Forgotten are the messes, the fighting, the mishaps of the day, replaced with all the beautiful things my children bring into my life. I step out of the bathtub, subdued, refreshed, renewed, ready to face another day without the lingering thoughts of yesterday dragging me down. I am ready to be the best possible mom all over again, in the morning. I wrap the warm towel around me, feeling like I just went up against an opponent and won, my victory? No not the bath, my children are my victory, my sanity, my crazy chaotic existence revolves around them! I smile inwardly, I got this! I step out of the tub, barefoot onto a toy meant to cause misery, I toss it into the bath toy basket, with a grin. Oh, no Mr. Ducky, you don’t get to steal my moment of serenity, not tonight, I thought as I poured my unfinished drink into the sink. In my comfiest pjs, hair and teeth brushed, and my legs shaved, I feel human! But just before I slip into bed, I tiptoe down the hall, peak in each of their rooms and drink in the sights of them. “I love you, thanks for letting me be your mom. I don’t deserve you, but I will never stop striving to be the perfect mom you deserve!” I whisper into the night, before sauntering off to bed, I drift off to sleep almost instantly, the last vision is one of them singing along in the backseat because they are where my heaven is.