I stand gazing up at the web of peeling paint on the ceiling. The room is closing in on me, and not just because of the paint chips hanging down like stalactites. The industrial grade toilet fit for a rest area bathroom and tile surround needed to be wiped down again. Again. Every. Single. Time. At what point do boys learn to flush and actually pee inside the toilet? I feel like we should be there already. I feel like my life is about wiping up urine.
I look left to where the shower curtain ends and wonder what it would be like to have a completely enclosed shower again. No I’m not talking about glass. I’m talking about three walls and a curtain that fills the empty space. I only have two walls, so there stands my pedestal sink, piled high with face wash and Axe body wash and combs and tweezers and nail clippers and toothbrushes and open tubes of toothpaste dripping cotton candy blue blobs into what used to be a porcelain white bowl. Seriously. How hard is it to rinse the bowl after you spit?
I close my eyes and reach for my loofa wrap filled with a bar of rose petal and olive oil soap from Sabon. It’s frivolous. But it’s my thing. My one thing in the day-to-day of sharing close quarters with my sweet, funny, sometimes stubborn and obnoxious, beyond ridiculously messy boys. If I close my eyes, I can pretend I’m at a spa, or walking through an English rose garden. I can pretend I am anywhere but where I really am.
I rest my left foot on the tub ledge next to the sink and begin rubbing the loofa in circular motions along my foot and up my leg. As I work my way up to my knee, a smell like rotten eggs tickles my nose. That’s strange. I peek around the curtain to the bathmat that rests in front of the toilet. Sure enough, my dog has made her way in and is curled up in a ball, waiting for me. “Really Chi Chi? You stink.”
I pull my head back inside the curtain, close my eyes, raise my left arm, and begin the process of scrubbing my armpits. It takes no less than a millisecond for the fragrance of rottenness to return, and it’s overwhelming this time. I peek my head out of the curtain again. “Chi Chi, did you poop?” But there’s nothing. Only my sweet little fur ball, exactly as she was a few moments ago. Why am I not smelling rose petals? Why is it getting stinkier the more I wash myself? Slowly, the realization dawns on me. THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE.
Before I turn the loofa over, I know. I JUST SCRUBBED MYSELF WITH SOMEONE’S POOP! Poop has touched my armpits. Breathe. Breathe. DON’T BREATHE IT SMELLS LIKE SHIT! I am mortified and disgusted. I want to cry and scream and break something. Pretend this never happened. DO NOT SPEAK OF THIS.
But later that night my husband comes home and asks how my day was, and I can’t hold back. I give him the play by play and start hyperventilating, tears rolling down my cheeks. The story is sheer lunacy, and hearing it out loud launches me into a fit of gut-busting, ROTF laughter. He is laughing along with me, tears and all.
If I’ve learned one thing about motherhood it’s this: to survive, you have to be able to laugh about it, because, shit, does indeed, happen.