Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying: When is the last time they had a bath?
I don’t know.
What month is it?
I am not a bad mom. I consider myself an adequate mom. I think I will get a mug: “World’s Most Adequate Mom.”
And I do love the smell of freshly bathed, lotioned, and jammied up small people, but the fact is washing them is a lot of work. We closed the pool about a month ago. There were two days last week that I casually ignored them when they turned on the hose. I pretended that I was on the phone when they stripped naked. Then I texted my husband to make sure he wasn’t going to be home right away and broke out the baby shampoo. So, it wasn’t a bath per say, but there was water and soap involved. When Justin got home, I joined him in chastising them for getting into the water hose.
They looked confused, but I just transferred $100 extra to each of their counseling funds. They can blame me, I don’t mind. As I tuck them in at night, I just remind them, “Tell your psychiatrist it was my fault, as long as I don’t have to give you a bath.”
There are so many factors involved. The two youngest boys, who we call the vandals, will jump in the pool 2,000 times. But if I dump a cup of bath water over their head they scream like I am trying to kill them. What is that? There are days I am just not up for the battle. And then there is the smell. Around here we call it “Buffalo Boy.” I actually kind of like the smell of their sweaty little-sunkissed heads. I love to look out the window of our ranch house and see their naked little bodies, with their cowboy boots on, of course, playing in the sandbox, or chasing the cat with a golf club. Such dear memories.
But the fact is when you add water to the Buffalo Boy smell it turns into hot buzzard breath with a hint of burning mesquite and armpit. Vandals should come with a warning label: DO NOT ADD WATER.
If we are being blatantly honest I have a rebellious streak that was instilled in me by my mother-in-law, may she rest in peace. Iris and I had our ups and downs. One of the more prevalent downs was the time she reported me to child protective services for failing to bathe the children after they had been swimming all day.
Is it just me? This seemed passive aggressive, oh, and also like an enormous waste of water. They’d literally been in the pool all day, soaking wet. And I argued that the chlorine was more effective than soap, and she’d deny it, but she did in fact bleach the children. Every chance she got she would give them a bath with a half a cup of bleach. I caught her once… she faked dementia. But I knew what she was up to.
As far as the ups? Iris died of cancer in our home, that wasn’t the up… the up was having her in our home.
Those last few weeks are some of the fondest memories we have together. My husband would push her up and down the sidewalk in her wheelchair while she held Sam. The kids would climb in her hospital bed with her, and she would love on them, tell them stories, and slowly drift to sleep. But she never let the bath thing go. Before she slipped into a coma, she had two last statements. First, she asked for “Natalie,” her granddaughter. And then she said, “Did you bathe the kids?”
I lied and whispered, “Yes, ma’am.”
Personally, I think the bathing of children has grown in excess. That and toothbrushing. And yes, I know they can get cavities, and we try our darndest and thank God they all have had great check-ups. But at the one-year-old’s check up the dentist said to me, “Make sure that if the baby has a bottle in the middle of the night, you take a warm wet cloth and wipe down her little tooth buds and then immediately give her a drink of filtered fluoridated water.”
I LOL’ed. And then said.“Immediately? I can’t do it immediately. I have to take our pet unicorn out to graze after I put the baby back to sleep… but I will clean her mouth out right after that.”
He didn’t laugh.
And I promise I will get nasty emails about the importance of infant dental health, but I am pretty sure that the pioneers weren’t wiping down the mouths of their babies and the human species has survived. I haven’t slept through the night since 1995. The goal of a bottle in the middle of the night is to put the baby back to sleep. Otherwise, I would be … that’s right – ASLEEP!!!!
So in lieu of the 3:00 am feeding with fluoride treatment I am opting for the 3:00 am feeding with a quick, “Jesus protect her teeth and please grant me two more hours of uninterrupted sleep… Amen.” I am confident since the Lord never grants my request for the sleep, He is busy protecting the baby’s teeth from decay.
I am also positive the Lord would not condone me shoving a washcloth in a sleeping child’s mouth, it is one of the commandments. Thou shall not wake a sleeping baby. I can’t deny my God for Dental Law, it would be a sin. Furthermore, I don’t feel that submersion in a bathtub is the only option for ‘bathing” the children. There’s wipes, hand sanitizer (which you can buy by the gallon at Sam’s Club), and never ever forget the power of mom spit.
So in honor of this post, I can answer truthfully, “They had a bath tonight.”
But I beg you, don’t ask me again… and don’t judge me. Obviously, I have enough problems, and the psychotherapy budget is maxed out on the children. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must tend to the unicorn.
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
“Blind Pharisee! First, clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:26
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