Open Letter to my Kids
When you were little I would lock myself in the bathroom. It became my sanctuary. When I needed a timeout, into the bathroom I went. When I needed a moment of peace…bathroom. When the options were curl in the fetal position in the corner of a room or go to prison for
justifiable homicide, I chose the bathroom. When I felt like screaming, into the bathroom I went. When I wasn’t sure I was going to make it as a mom, it was the bathroom where I found the strength to carry on.
Usually my trips to the bathroom included bringing along my sole possession which kept my sanity connected by a thread, my cell phone. I would call my sister, mom or friend and say, “I’m locked in the bathroom. But I’ll be ok because I’ve got my cell phone.” They would talk me down from the ledge (or the top of the toilet bowl) and I would find my way back out to where you were waiting.
When you were little it was cute when you’re little fingers came snaking under the door. I would reach down and touch them and you would giggle in your sweet little voice. Then I knew all would be ok and I could come back out.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve continued to head to the bathroom for moments of peace, sanity checks and mommy timeouts. When you hit 5 it was no longer cute when your little fingers came snaking under the doors and your obnoxious voice rang out with, “Mommy, when are you coming out?” Instead of reaching down to tickle your fingers and hear your little giggles, I wanted to slap them away and demand you leave me alone for a moment.
Always, I had my cell phone. It comforted me. Even if I didn’t call anyone, I knew there was a big, huge outside world waiting to comfort me, laugh with me, cry with me and remind me that CPS/DHS was watching me. Mommy was locked in the bathroom but I had my cell phone, so I knew I would be ok.
By age 8, the amount of times per week I needed to lock myself in the bathroom diminished. Having you away at school 7.5 hours a day definitely helped. Now my trips to the bathroom were usually reserved for moments when I wanted to raise my voice at you for picking your grape stems off and casually dropping them off to the side of the chair you were lounging on, or cutting up your pants because you wanted to see what they were lined with, or spilling a gallon of milk after I’d asked you to stop horsing around in the kitchen. To the bathroom I would go when I needed to calm down again and get a healthy perspective on the situation and figure out a suitable punishment for these new weird and obnoxious infractions. My trusty cell phone came along. I called your father at work to get his input. Called my sister with, “You’re not going to believe what they did this time!” And called my mom to say, “Was I like this?!”
By that age it got really annoying when you would wait until I went to my sanctuary and proceed to stand at the door knocking and yelling questions. “Mom, can I have a cookie? Why are you crying? Is that Aunt Chelle? Can I talk to her too?” The new habit of sliding things under the door became a huge annoyance. I can sign your homework later. Your fingers are no longer cute they’re dirty, go wash them and trim your nails. And I definitely did not want to open the door a crack to peek at what you were trying to show me. I would beg you to leave me alone for 5 minutes while I found “happy mommy” and desperately wished toilet water could be transformed into cranberry vodka punch with a push of the magic silver button on the side of the tank.
Now you are 10, 9 and 7 the bathroom etiquette seems to have gone out the door. No longer do you even knock, you just walk in and start asking questions or handing me my ringing cell phone. Yes, I heard it ringing. I was hoping to escape for a minute. If I needed to lock myself in the bathroom with my phone, I would have brought it with me. And even though I thought it was smart that you figured out how to unlock the door from the outside and asked you to show me how to do it when you brother locked us out of all the bathrooms in the house, I’m quite certain that locking picking skill won’t take you very far in life. Especially if you continue to use that skill on my bathroom while I’m in it. You just might not get the chance to lead a long, productive life.
I can no longer be accountable for what happens when you open that sanctuary and waltz in. I’m sorry that you’ve been exposed to saggy, old things no child should have to experience. You are probably wishing now that Rohypnol came in a Pez dispenser so you could forget the entire moment. However, I refuse to pay for the therapy bill your charging into the bathroom unannounced has caused.
I don’t ask for much in life. I’ve already given you my dignity and what remained of my sanity. The last nerve you found and jumped on is yours too. You can keep it all. All I’m asking for, begging really, is that you leave the bathroom door closed and let me have my last remaining sanctuary.