I lingered in the shower this morning, mama.
And I did it without sneaking from bed before my children were awake, without hurriedly stepping into just-a-little-too-cold-yet water, without shampooing my hair first, just in case that’s all I could squeeze in.
Mama, it wasn’t that long ago that I had to make plans to have a shower, too.
Which, I know you know, inevitably meant that I would not manage to make it happen, day in and day out.
Mama, it wasn’t that long ago that I had to sit down and have a conversation with my partner about how I could shower more often.
Which felt ludicrous and necessary all at the same time.
Mama, it wasn’t that long ago that I went about my daily activities feeling not-so lovely, feeling ever-so frumpy, and some days even gross. It wasn’t that long ago that, as I walked down a crowded downtown street, I caught a sidelong glimpse of my greasy, wayward bedhead in the reflection of a shop window. And I felt shame. I hoped that no one I knew would see me.
Dishevelled. Not-together. Not even able to care for my own body; caring for the bodies of my two children instead.
But mama, despite all the conversations and the sneaking and the agonizing over the simple feeling of warm water cascading down my rounded mother-body…
Showering was still. not. happening. Not on my schedule. Not whenever I wanted. Not when I needed a pick-me-up or a few minutes of solitude.
And there was certainly never any lingering.
And so mama, like I imagine you do, too, I railed. I railed against the fact of my motherhood, some days, and against the nearly-incomprehensible and yet-undeniable fact that showering had become my mental preoccupation.
Until this morning.
This morning, I lingered.
Yes, I finished soaping my entire body, AND my hair, and then instead of hurriedly grasping for a towel and slipping across the floor to prevent my toddler from climbing on top of the toilet tank again….I lingered.
The moment was made sweeter as the sounds of my two kids cuddling and tickling each other with early-morning camaraderie filled the bathroom.
Mama, they had hardly noticed I was gone!
The moment was made sweeter, too, for all the struggle these last two years. Yes mama, two years. All that struggle seemed to evaporate in the steam that billowed around me.
This moment, you see, this glimpse of my self again, didn’t happen on my schedule. It always takes much, much longer than any of us wish it did, or would care to admit. It takes much much longer than society leads us to believe and that, mama, might just be the reason for the struggle: we live in a world where our expectations of what motherhood is are totally, utterly skewed. It takes longer because babies, for the first two years of life, are still a physical and emotional extension of their mothers, despite all our efforts to get our bodies back, despite pedicures and date nights, and despite the baby receptacles that are marketed to us so that we can separate ourselves from our little ones. And I know: I would pay vast quantities of money, too , some days, to have my physical and emotional autonomy returned to me, if only I thought they would work. But Nature, mama, always has Her way.
And so I lingered in the shower this morning. The moment was fleeting and yet it was a sign. It was a sign of my self growing back as my children’s selves grew too. And it was precious and cleansing and delightful and a little bittersweet, too, believe it or not. Even after all the struggle. The bargaining and the conversations.
But on the days that it was hard to have patience for my transformation into motherhood, something told me this shower would come. This moment would come.