This morning, I was almost knocked over in the bathroom by a small, pudgy, lily-white streaker.
It was my 3-year-old, racing naked into the bathroom and pushing past me into the shower. Before disappearing behind the curtain, she pointed at the towel in my hand and yelled, “I want the white one!”
You see, my daughter has become accustomed to showering with me.
Initially, it was a decision borne of necessity, and possibly desperation.
When I brought home baby #5, it was a definite time-saver to kill two birds (or wash two smelly people) with one stone. I was also scared that if I left my toddler alone with the baby while I showered she would literally love him to death.
Simultaneous showers kept everyone clean and alive, so that's what we did. You know how it is.
And it just kind of became a habit.
This morning in the shower, I looked down at her, one arm hugging my leg while she played with a bath toy, and I suddenly realized how much I'm going to miss this one day.
Lest you think my rose-colored glasses deceive me, let me be clear: there have been plenty of cringe-worthy moments involving my daughter waving my razor around like an axe murderer.
The white towel — the one she wanted this morning and every morning — is my favorite. Or was, anyway, before she decided it was hers.
It used to be that I could escape into the shower to be alone, usually (in my head) bellowing “Sanctuaryyyy!” like Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Where's my safe haven now?
I know I'll miss these days once the kids are all grown, when the house is too quiet and the laundry is under control and messes only appear when I make them myself. Sometimes it would just be nice if I could have a few of those days now.
Unfortunately, that's not how parenthood works.
It's complete immersion at every stage, and the hardest job of a mother is to enjoy each step as it comes and keeps on coming so incessantly, on evenings and weekends and holidays and in the middle of the night.
And then ironically, when my kids are no longer little, I know I'd gladly trade a few days of my quiet, orderly life for the refuge of constant noise and chaos and in-your-face love of a houseful of 5 kids under 10.
Looking at my oldest child who will turn 11 this year, I'm forced to admit that all those older ladies in the grocery store were right: it does go by so fast. I know it, but all the same I still can't believe the little girl crawling between my feet while I shampoo my hair won't always be there.
So I don't really mind letting her use the white towel. I'll give up a few minutes of alone time in the morning.
Showering isn't exactly the sanctuary it used to be, but for now I'm happy to take refuge in this moment of motherhood.