Why I Quit Bathing My Kids.

My friends of the Daily Child Bather Variety (which thankfully are rare) cannot understand people like me.

They’re still in denial that the facts prove that most people are indeed like me but since I’m open and vocal about my anti-bathing stance, I must take the brunt of their shock.

But here’s a little story to illustrate why, exactly, I only bathe my children twice a week.

Maybe this kind of thing doesn’t happen to the daily bathers. And if so, they should count their blessings and shut up.

But they do happen to me.

It was a Thursday afternoon, perhaps yesterday, directly before naptime.

The timing is important, because all mothers know that “directly before naptime” means “I seriously cannot wait to have you in bed so that I can have a moment to reclaim my thoughts without anyone saying ‘heymommyheymommyheymommyheymommy’ while I’m simply trying to think one tiny sentence fragment of my own.”

(Cherish every moment, sweetheart. They go by so fast.)

But thanks to a frantic week, we were off schedule, and I was aware that my children stanketh more than usual.

(“Bath Nights” are Saturday nights and Tuesday nights. You do the math.)

So I had no choice. Pre-naptime baths absolutely had to happen.

I began running the bath and called the children from their blissful play.

“Everybody get naked and go tee-tee!”

Noah was first to whiningly reach me. As he was hopping off the toilet, he was still saying “I gotta go potty!”

“Do you need to poop?”

“No, silly! I just tee teed!”

“Then get in the tub.”

The washing began – along with the shock and awe over the fact that this bath, like all baths, requires me to spray your head, scrub your head, and rinse your head.

(WHY is that always such a surprise?? I will never understand.)

I finished Noah’s head and relegated him to the back of the tub. Then I began detangling Ali’s hair.

It’s unreal, her hair. At least ten feet long, thick, fine, and prone to extreme knots worthy of their own TLC freak show.

(I took her to a random salon at her birthday and requested that they put a deep conditioning detangling treatment on it. The salon manager didn’t believe me that she needed it, but agreed to it anyway. The treatment itself created a matted knot so big that it took her and another stylist over thirty minutes to get it out, all while the she shot me dirty, accusing looks while repeating that she’d never seen anything like it, clearly implicating me in a conspiracy to torture her.)

(Needless to say the treatment has not been any sort of long-term help.)

Back to the bath.

I was two and a half days into removing her tangles when Noah screamed, “I neeeeed to poooooop!”

Of course you do. Because you only poop once a week and of course it would be during this small window of rare bathing that your urges urgently interrupt.

But hey – it’s better than the alternative.

“Get out of the tub and poop, then.”

<Splash> <Splosh> <SHplop> <SHplop>

He tracked his giant pond-sized footprints across the bathroom floor.

He sat behind us, straining and turning purple, filling the room with the most unclean sound effects and aromas.

I considered the air particles for a second – should I just give up this bathing process all together?

“I’m doooone!!! I NEEEED YOU TO WIIIIIIPE MEEEE!”

I’m right here dude. No need to broadcast.

So I rinsed the masses of conditioner off my hands and headed over to wipe a butt.

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He leaned over, holding my legs as I sent a piece of unlucky toilet paper journeying through his buttcheeks.

“My hands are all wet from my bath – not from the potty.”, he told me.

“I’m aware of that fact. But thanks for the reassurances.”

I wiped him extra thoroughly since he was headed back into a liquid germ-sharing situation with his sister, then flushed and returned to my detangling of the lion’s mane.

I didn’t notice the fact that his once-a-week poo was so massive that it had clogged the toilet. Or that the commode innards had also gotten stuck in the air and the water was continuing the run.

(One would assume such fortune could only happen once in a lifetime. But here it was, happening again, in the very same bathroom that was now brand new because of the last time it happened.)

I was unaware. Until I heard the sound of Victoria Falls rushing from the toilet.

I jumped up, splattering conditioner onto every surface, all while screaming “NONONONONO STOPSTOPSTOPSTOP!!!!”, sloshed through the quickly forming lake, and began frantically turning the knob on the back of the toilet.

The falls kept falling until the very last quarter turn. By then, the River of PooWater was nearing Ali’s bedroom.

I snatched up their towels and started mopping, while children, who are the ultimate Captain Obviouses, began saying things like,

“There’s water in the floor, Mommy!”

and,

“The toilet is overflowing!”

and,

“It’s comin’ over this way!”

I am not a yeller.

But in a moment of extreme PTSD – complete with flashbacks of living with the last toilet flood damage for 184 days – I yelled.

“Be quiet! Everyone – be quiet!”

Because apparently sopping up water demands silence. At least for Mommies who cannot tune out children.

It took both of their towels and a third fresh one from the linen closet to soak up all the PooWater, leaving me with extraordinarily unclean-feeling feet.

But it’s not like I could wash them off in the bathtub. Or track across my bedroom carpet to the other bathtub.

So I just went back, once more, to my job of detangling.

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After everyone was [as clean as they could get in that room] and deposited in their respective bedrooms wearing fresh towels, I carried the sadly abused towels downstairs, using as few fingers as possible and praying that they weren’t wet enough to drip. I opened up the washing machine, ready to fling them in from afar…only to discover that I’d completely forgotten about the last load of laundry the day before.

And this,

All of This,

is why my children are, as of today, required to become hipsters.

I took a few pictures of the perpetrator so that I could remember what cleanliness looks like. To cherish the moment.

Noah Clean

Because he will be allowed bathe again when he’s twenty-one.

Top Secrets Learned about Rachel.

Here’s the thing. When you’ve never met someone in real life or even had a single phone conversation with them, but then come and live at their house for five days, you learn a lot about them in a short amount of time. In a normal friendship, these peculiarities are spread out over such a long period of time that the person in question might seem normal. Perhaps not as much in the friendship of Heather-The-Blog-Reader-From-Mozambique and myself.

Ergo, this list was born.

A guest post, by Heather The Missionary.

Top Secret

19 Secrets I Learned about Rachel.

1. Her basement is a death trap.

2. She bathes her kids even less than she claims.

3. She has serious angst when hitting publish on her blog posts.

4. Hospitality is not her gift. (But it is her husband’s.)

5. She enjoys listening to “Dreaming with Jeff” and can be found late at night giggling along to his “soothing” voices.

6. She drinks energy shots like a teenage boy.

7. She enjoys a good fruity cocktail at the end of a long day (but then.. who DOESN’T?)

8. Her back porch is an accident waiting to happen (yet she sends her hubby out there to BBQ.)

9. She has pet names for her SUV (and all SUVs like it.)

10. She doesn’t know why anyone reads blogs. For real.

11. It’s a good thing she homeschools because she would NEVER have her kids at school by seven every morning! (Eight would be pushing it too.) (And also nine.)

12. If she had a chance at another career…. Graffiti Artist is a completely viable option.

13. She loves to show off all things southern – especially food! But only if she doesn’t have to cook it.

14. She stinks at fast forwarding in a manner that doesn’t frustrate the entire room.

15. She’s having an affair with Chick-fil-a.

16. She is the strangest mix of introvert/extrovert…Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde only neither side of her is a psychopathic villain.

(That she knows of.)

17. She freaks out in the middle of the night approximately one week before she has visitors and sends long, rambling disclaimers via Facebook about how she is not as much fun in person and really quite high maintenance.

18. She runs over a lot of curbs.

19. She collects lint from the dryer on her windowsill.

Bonus one added by me…

20. She simply cannot HANDLE a list of 19 items. 19?! An odd number, a prime number, AND one away from a nice even number? Unacceptable.

What Really Happened In Eufaula.

This past weekend, I felt compelled to return to the scene of the crime. My crime.

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The Place: Lakepoint State Park in Eufaula, Alabama.

The time: One year ago.

My conviction: Utter selfishness.

My sentence: a year of guilt.

I never really told my story. How I actually felt that weekend…because it would have been grotesquely insensitive. But it’s been a year now…maybe the trauma has departed enough for me to not seem like such a detestable person.

Or maybe not.

One year ago, I was itching for adventure. For winter wonderland. For snow.

A snowstorm was being predicted several days in advance – a massive one. 9-12 inches perhaps!

The only problem? It was definitely not coming to Birmingham. It might go anywhere around Birmingham, but there was a zero percent chance of Birmingham seeing more than a dusting – a dusting that definitely wouldn’t stick more than two seconds.

No way, no how.

So I made the only logical decision: I decided that I MUST go to the snow.

For the children.

For adventure.

For LIVING.

First, I spent 36 hours chasing the predictions. As the target moved, I changed my plans. I was going to Charleston…Columbia…Augusta…Atlanta…Middle-of-Nowhere-Georgia…

I invited every one of my friends and relatives to join me, one at a time, trying to get someone in on our grand adventure. But everyone had plans that week, or didn’t want to take their kids out of school, or had some reason that they needed to stay in Birmingham.

Finally, the night before, the weather experts said that the Ground Zero of this massive snow event would be…Eufaula, Alabama.

Three hours southeast of Birmingham.

It seemed unlikely and made no sense – Eufaula has probably never seen more than a handful of snow in its history. But the experts were decisive, so I obeyed. I made reservations at a state park, and I dragged the children out of bed and set off early in the morning, because they said the snow was coming quicker than expected.

Some were happier than others.

Leaving

It was a harrowing journey, for a southern driver, anyway – I dealt with flakes of snow and drops of sleet and needing to actually use the defrost for its true purpose for the first time in my life.

As we grew closer to our destination, the snow turned to sleet, and the sleet turned to rain…the temperature gauge in the car kept rising…and I began to feel very nervous on the inside.

As we arrived, the tweets began coming in.

“You should have stayed in Birmingham. My yard is covered in snow.”

“It’s snowing hard here! There’s already an inch on my yard and it’s just started!”

“It’s a shame you didn’t just stay put!”

I HATED MY FRIENDS.

I WANTED TO TELL THEM TO SHUT UP FOREVER.

It was above freezing and raining where we were, with no hope of that turning to snow anytime soon. But the state park attendants assured me that the snow was still coming to Eufaula. LOTS of it.

And so we waited. Extraordinarily nervously.

Then the reports began surfacing that Birmingham didn’t just get snow – but a massive ice underlying the snow that destroyed all transportation in progress. The fact that Birmingham was indeed getting snow was a last minute realization, so the entire city left work to go home and/or pick up their children…which turned the entire city into what was the most massive, epic, city-wide stranding situation ever experienced. The scenes were out of an Apocalyptic Movie. Or The Walking Dead on a snowy day.

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…Photos which I couldn’t TAKE, because I was stuck three hours away. With nothing but rain and melting icicles on an alligator sign.

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The smug tweets turned into panicked tweets. Stories began rolling in about thousands of cars being stuck on the interstate. No possible way for emergency personnel to get to them. And this wasn’t thawing soon – Birmingham was officially iced in – and at the most inconvenient of times. The city’s children were stuck in their preschools and schools with teachers that were now emergency caregivers.

~ My Dad’s cousin was stuck in her car for eleven and a half hours.

~ Noah’s Godfather (who is an elder at our church) was trying to drive uphill, but had to abandon his car in the parking lot of a rather infamous liquor store (called Tootie’s, no less,) and walk ten miles home. In the snow, up the mountain, on a solid sheet of ice.

Meanwhile, I was panicking. Not about them – not about the actual human suffering going on in my city – but about the fact that I had spent all this money…done all this planning…dragged my kids away…and now we were stuck in this tiny cabin, iced out of our city for who knows how many days, in the rain.

I did care very much about what was going on in Birmingham, but I also cared very much about my own mistakes.

Not only were we in the rain, but we were in the only rain in this entire blasted storm. We were supposed to be in the epicenter and we were in the exact spot where the snow ended and the rain began.

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If we had simply stayed home, we would have the winter wonderland I so desired.

But could I tell anyone this? Could I bemoan my situation and find comfort?

Um, no.

Because everyone I knew was having The Biggest Crisis of Their Lives.

Snowpocalypse Story Birmingham Alabama 5

~ My pregnant neighbor had to walk up a mountain, and met another pregnant walker along the way.

~ A blog friend Adrienne had to go door to door asking anyone if they had a breast pump, and my friend Maree recounts this experience:

Snowpocalypse Story Birmingham Alabama 3

Everyone had a story of hours of chaos, tragedy, panic, and having to urinate in their cars.

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My parents, however, had felt like they should stay home that day. And sent my kids a video of them gleefully sledding down their hill.

Which was just great. Because my children, doe-eyed and pitiful, asked dozens of times thereafter, “Mommy, why didn’t we just go to Gramamma and Pop’s?? It was a lot closer….and they have SNOW!”

Regret drowned me.

I paced, stuck in the tiny cottage, rain pouring outside, children bouncing off the walls, cycling between sadness about this ridiculous adventure and guilt about being so emotional about my own situation. Then more regret. And more guilt.

Meanwhile, other people had real problems.

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I read tweet after tweet, status after status about what was going on in Birmingham, trying to tune out my frantic and antsy children, watching every radar in hopes that our rain would turn to snow.

FOR TEN HOURS.

Ten hours is a long time to be stuck in a warm cabin with rain beating on the windows.

Okay it’s a longer time to be stuck in a freezing car on an interstate with ten thousand other commuters while one’s kids are stranded at school. Which is why I’m the worst person on the earth. And why Birmingham may disown me for this confession.

All I had wanted was snow and all I had gotten was the opportunity to try and keep my kid from breaking the overly fancy glasses at the state park restaurant.

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I finally put the children to bed at 8:30pm, after a long day of stir-crazy in Eufaula.

And as I walked out of their room from tucking them in, I looked out the window.

And the snow had begun.

I nearly cried.

I went and jerked those kids out of bed, shoved their rain boots on over their pajamas, and tossed them out the back door.

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It was beautiful. It was snow. We had finally arrived.

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It only snowed for two hours, but I watched every flake fall from that sky. We ended up with as much snow as Birmingham, minus the underlying ice and tragedy. We were in a picturesque place, with beautiful views of both the sunrise and sunset, a frozen shore, and a breakfast buffet – it was the absolute utopia of Southern Snow.

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Which only compounded my guilt about my ten hour attitude issue.

Oh and also? People were still stuck. Just watch a little of this video to see how stuck Birmingham was:

Tens of thousands of kids had spent the night at their schools, roads were filled with thousands of abandoned cars, my husband spent two nights sleeping at his office, all those people who had too many plans to join me on their adventures found their plans cancelled and their lives upturned, and in general my city remained in shambles for about 36 hours.

Meanwhile, we were playing blissfully, exactly where we wanted to be.

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Worried about those at home, but fully enjoying our two inches of winter wonderland.

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Digging up puddles,

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And making snow angels.

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My kids even made friends with the one other family at the state park, who had driven up from Florida for the same purpose as us.

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We had snow cream,

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A warming station,

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And perfect happiness filled every moment.

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Except when it didn’t.

When we drove home two days after the storm had hit, I lost count of the cars still abandoned on the interstates, and we made it home just one hour after Chris – Who had been at his office, which is 20 minutes away, for about 55 hours.

Armageddon had hit my city and I’d missed it – instead, I spent that time worrying about the demise of my personal adventure, and then enjoying it fully.

(For the children, of course.)

I’m sorry, Birmingham. I deserve your wrath.

What really happened to you that weekend?