Monday, April 15, 2013

Slip Sliding Away

"Darn the wheel of the world.  Why must it continually turn over?  
Where is the reverse gear?" 
-- Jack London

We negotiated.  She wanted a shower.  I wanted to give her a bath.  We compromised as we fortunately can often find our way to do: I'd wash her hair in the tub and chat for a minute.  I'd enjoy her hair, her little face wet with water, her closed eyes and lashes laden with dew drops. I'd notice her leaning her head way back, letting me rinse and rinse and rinse long after it was necessary.  I'd wash her face and touch those cheeks and suck up that smell of cleaning away the grime of the day and getting ready for the night.

After that, she'd get to have a shower on her own.  I'd set it up and hand her the soap and give her the freedom of water rushing down, time alone lost in her thoughts, the privacy and big-ness she is ready for and waiting for.  Darn.

I remember reading a long time ago that we make a big deal about the beginnings.  We take photos of the first day, the first time, the first class and we record them.  But no one gives us the memo on the last day, the last moment, the last time.  Hardly ever can we tell that it's ending.  It just slip slides away...morphs into something new and before we know it, it's over.

Because I've done this a few times, I'm more aware of the endings as they approach.  I'm on the look out now.  I know.
I can feel it and now I take the mental photograph.

I can't tell you how many baths I've given but I am my mother's daughter and she loves a clean child.  She scours the fingernails (I still remember my fingernails hurting from her own fingernail cleaning underneath mine), washes behind the ears and inside the corners of the eyes.  She gets in every nook and cranny and the result is a very clean child.  

I am the same. 
 I never minded giving baths.  I loved the forced opportunity of stopping and slowing down and cleaning and caring for my babies.  I cherished the smell of a fresh-from-the-the-tub child.  I snuggled in bath towels as long as possible, giggled at the naked adorableness, watched those bouncing booties...but now, twenty years into it, my time is running out.

I know.  I know.  Get over it.  
It's not that big a deal.  But for me, it's another reminder that the joy of babyhood, toddlerhood, preschoolerville and yes even early elementary school is on its way out.  My chickadee is turning seven in just a few weeks and her patient tolerance for my intensive mothering in the bath department is going down the drain...the final whirlpool is beautiful.  It's all very very good.  I'm just noticing.

So, today, I'm grateful for the few baths I have left.  Grateful that I have had the joy and chance of bathing four kids.  Grateful for the bounty of clean water that I so often use with the barest of acknowledgements, knowing there are millions of mothers who would love nothing more than to put their baby in a hot bath and scrub them clean.

Today I'm grateful for my baby and my ability to finally see the bend in the road and know that it's all it should be...
in all the right ways.


  1. Giving Caroline baths are some of my favorite memories ever. I think it is so important to notice and cherish endings. So bittersweet. I promise...when I have a baby, you can give her plenty of baths when we visit!

  2. Katie...won't it be fun to give your sweet baby a bath?! I'd love it! But by then I will be out of practice and might be a little rusty. Good thing babies don't notice! Can't wait! :)

  3. I have so often thought about this...I have zillions of photos of the first of everything my kids have done, and have made conscious effort to take the everyday ones, too. But I always feel like I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop...when is the last time for so much of our mothering. Thanks for the reminder to be grateful for the everyday, for EVERY day.

    1. Thanks Jennifer! "When is the last time for so much of our mothering"...we know there really is no last time, we will always be there, even if we are not...but the rhythm, the rituals, the routine is always changing...even if it's just in the tiniest, most imperceptible way.

  4. Many of my favorite moments as a mother have been during bathtime. I love this. xox

    1. Me too! Thanks so much Lindsey! :)