October 14, 2011

A Hopeful Season: On Taking Back the Bathroom

We have two bathrooms in our house. One is the master bath and the other we refer to as the "little bathroom". Funnily enough, the master bath has the world's tiniest shower and the "little bathroom" has a bigger shower. At some point after we were married I started showering in the little bathroom because I couldn't contort myself, like I was still 17 and captain of the cheerleading squad, to shave my legs.

For almost two years the shower, the bathroom and I had a fine relationship. I spent plenty of time up to my ears in bubbles taking hot baths to soothe my back that ached from the ginormous belly I was toting around. I laid my head on the (closed) toilet seat in the throes of morning sickness, exhausted from puking for the umpteenth time that day and took comfort in its smooth coolness on my hot face. It all worked fine.

Then I had a baby. We brought the baby home and for awhile the shower in that little bathroom was my best friend. I would escape for twenty minutes and dawdle over conditioning my hair and emerge feeling like a brand new mommy and smelling a lot better too.

Not too long after, the bathroom began to have a darker side. It became the place where the roaring of the water amplified in my head along with the echoes of the cries of my daughter. It was like Niagara Falls mixed with a screaming baby. The walls began to close in on me. Panting, I would rip back the shower curtain desperate for some space. I hated the cheery blue of the walls; I wanted to paint them bright white, blank like I wished my mind to be.

In this shower was where I contemplated leaving my husband and child. It was where I faced probably the darkest days of my life. It was where I pounded my hands into head willing myself to get it together and feel normal. It was where I would sit and rock myself and where I would throw up from anxiety.

Even after I started down the road to recovery I dreaded the little bathroom. The fear still never left even as the clouds of depression and anxiety passed and I tried to relax in the depths of the tub, up to my ears in bubbles once again. I've showered quickly ever since.

Now, a little yellow ducky tub graces the bathroom. It sits constantly, with its plastic body the color of bright sunshine and bright orange beak. Sometimes the duck quacks. Other times, he sits smiling in quiet contemplation. He is appropriately named "Ducky".

Every night as eight-o-clock comes and goes you can find a chubby baby happily honking as she plays in the soapy water her Ducky provides. Sometimes I am alone with her and sometimes her Daddy is there too. We might even have a few representatives from the canine or feline contingent. In any case, in the yellow Ducky, in the little blue bathroom, we laugh each night. We make jokes about the flying dragon sea horse. We splash and carry on. We grin happily at each other as we play with crabby. The two of us, the three of us or sometimes the nine of us, we enjoy the pure happiness of family.

The little blue bathroom has become a place of joy once again. It is one more bad memory that Evie and I are reclaiming, washing clean and taking back together.

I'm still thinking about repainting the walls, a fresh start, for me and the little bathroom.