I don’t want to brag too, too much, but I cleaned my room (mostly) and my bathroom (the clutter and a quick wipe-down, not the layers of dust, lint, and shame that have accrued in the corners), so I celebrated by taking a bath and reading a book and not being mean to myself for 5 minutes.
It was a great bath, too. Oh, the kids interrupted — and so did the dog — but that’s the Mommy Bathtime Standard in these parts, so no worries. Besides, who doesn’t love lying naked in the tub whilst arguing with a hormonally muddled and enraged child hovering above you?
“Mom, there is NO BREAD even though you PROMISED you’d BUY BREAD. ALL I ASK FOR IS BREAD. That’s all I want. ONE piece of toast. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK? If I was old enough to drive to the store to buy the bread myself, I WOULD DO IT, but I CAN’T, so I rely on you. I RELY ON YOU FOR BREAD, MOM.”
“I did buy bread…” “No, I’m not going to get out of the tub to show you where, specifically, I put it…” “Um… because THE BREAD IS IN THE PLACE BREAD USUALLY GOES and HAS GONE for the TWELVE YEARS you have been alive in this house…” “Well, contrary to your vehement opinion otherwise, it is not too much to expect you to USE THE EYEBALLS IN YOUR HEAD to locate it ALL BY YOURSELF even though there was no bread there when you looked three days ago.”
It was bliss, I tell you. Bliss. But less because of the fun convos with my precious babies and more because I discovered a whole pile of fancy bath stuff under the sink.
Friends, I used to save Fancy Things for a Special Occasion. Candles. Lotions. Perfume. Bath salts. Pretty soap. The Good Dishes. You name it, I saved it, hoarder style, until a day I reflected on the life and death of my friend Gloria and realized Life is the Special Occasion I’d been waiting for, and burning candles in celebration of breath makes more sense than hiding them in the cupboard like I’m not worthy of wax and string and fire.
But I haven’t cleaned out the junk in my bathroom for years. YEARS. So I didn’t remember what I’d squirreled away in the cavern below the sink with the poorly painted drywall and the dust-coated pipes. Finally, after unearthing paint cans, and ant poison, and crumbling make-up — after finding inexplicably gummy bobby pins, three broken curling irons, a pregnancy test, two expired condoms I gave to my children to use as water balloons, and seven kinds of cleaner we’ve never used — I reached the far back corner. In that corner was a sturdy red gift box. And in that box were bath sachets. Bath “tea” to be exact. Like softball sized tea bags full of yummy, smelly bits. Lavender. Mint. Cloves. Tea leaves, obviously. And they were all tagged aspirationally with words like Pampering and Relaxing and Invigorating.
I don’t remember whether I received them as a gift or bought them intending them for someone else, but, either way, they were past their “use by” date, which was sometime around 2012, and my choices were toss them or use them. I mean, they had clearly lost some of their scent, but, in a Woolsey House Miracle, they’d stayed dry and clean, so I put them by the tub.
When I took my Victory Bath, I tossed in Pampering, and I was pleased when the lovely, mild scent of lavender wafted from the tea-infused warm water. Sure, it was a little Boston Tea Party-ish, soaking in a beverage. And yes, the adhesive that held the bag closed gave out after a few minutes, spreading potpourri into the tub with me so I had to fish out the bulk of it before it fully steeped. But it was also nice. And I did feel pampered. Despite the bread conversation. Which is the goal of, like, every mama I know. A minute of peace amidst the chaos. Treating ourselves like we deserve intentional care. Giving zero effs about bath product expiration dates.
I did feel pampered in my tea bath.
Until Gregory Woolsey came in.
And looked at me.
And looked at the bath.
And looked away.
And looked back in a rapid double take.
And said, “Beth?” He waited to get my attention. You know? He waited until we made Eye Contact like he was checking for pupil dilation. And then he asked, “Are you… sitting in diarrhea water?”
Which is when it occurred to me.
I was bathing in tea. Which turned the water a sort of translucent brown. And bits had broken loose from the bag so there were floaties.
It looked EXACTLY like I’d Soft Poopied in the tub. Where I’d remained. Casually reading a book. Up to my neck in my own filth.
Y’all, I was offended for 3 seconds. This is how far I got, “How could Greg even THINK I would POOP in my own bath wat….”
And then I remembered I don’t have the best track record RE: sitting in my own soft poopies. And I also am not, technically, the very most sane human, and we’ve missed a few, teeny, tiny mental illness relapse indicators in the past.
All things considered, it’s probably best he checked.
After all, nothing says I Love You like making sure your partner’s not soaking in her own diarrhea.