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One mom would just like to pee without an audience. Is that too much to ask?

toddler getting into mischief with make up

Jennifer Ginsberg: "Don't I deserve a little dignity?" I rant to anyone who will listen. It is Monday morning at 7:15 AM and I am trying to get myself together. It seems as if every member of my family is entitled to take a peaceful shower and sit on the toilet without an audience, except me. The other day I was using the bathroom and Shane, my four-year-old, asked me if I needed a tampon. Enough is enough.

Getting ready for my day is not a complicated process, as it was in my single days of yore. I generally take a 5-minute shower, put on a little lip balm, and throw on a baseball cap. Ironically, I need the time and effort much more now than I did then. It is a miracle if I can put on some lip gloss without my 2-year-old daughter snatching it away from me and licking the wand.

When I was growing up, none of the families I knew employed regular sitters or nannies, yet our moms always came downstairs with their "faces on." My mom put on her makeup to take out the trash, and she certainly was not getting up at 5 AM to accomplish this. I, on the other hand, often leave my home in glorified pajamas to run errands! Why is basic self-care so elusive? How the hell did our moms do it?

In the 1960s and 1970s, parents were not nearly as child-centered as we are now. When they went to the bathroom, they actually closed the doors, and we weren't allowed to bang on them and scream. They put meals on the table and we either ate them or starved.

There weren't any "choices" and they sure as hell weren't interested in processing our feelings of disappointment with us when we were put in our playpens as they drank their coffee and watched "All My Children." Maybe they had the right idea!

They knew how to carve out their own time in any way possible. And they seemed to achieve this without the layer of angst that I tend to wrap around most experiences. When my children are awake, I feel so responsible for providing them with enrichment. When they watch too much TV, I feel like a failure. When I check my e-mail, I feel guilty for not giving my children 100% of my attention.

Perhaps there is a middle ground between benign neglect and over-parenting. It is imperative that children learn about personal space and boundaries. But more importantly, the world does not need to see me pee.

next: Girly Girls and Tomboys -- Nature or Nurture?
11 comments so far | Post a comment now
mollysmom April 26, 2009, 9:06 AM

i understand, half the time i can’t get through a bath either without someone coming in. a friend of mine said to lock the door but i would feel too bad. i’ve often wondered how women of the 50’s and 60’s always looked so pulled together at all times and got through the day like that but then i remember they always had “cocktail hour” when the husbands got home, i guess it was the equivalent to my happy hours when i was single and i always looked good for those:)

Nell April 26, 2009, 9:07 AM

You are right. I too have to take my 14 month old in the bathroom with me or she has a complete fit! Everyone has us so scared that if we lay down any rules and punishment, then we are raising a society of children that will have no empathy with others. We can’t spend anytime on ourselves without the guilt hanging over your head that “oooh, you should be reading 3 books to her instead of relaxing. Don’t you want her to be smart?…and woe if the child watches TV while you do anything. I tell ya, I feel like a hostage in my own home most days.

Anonymous April 26, 2009, 9:30 AM

Yes! Everytime, every single time. No one sets foot in the bathroom when dad is in there. What the heck! I want some space too.

Anonymous April 26, 2009, 11:11 AM

Put them in front of the tv if that’s what it takes.

Skyar April 26, 2009, 11:48 AM

While I don’t have children yet, I think it’s healthier for everyone to find a happy medium between child care and self care. I tend to be of the general thinking of “happy wife/mom, happy life.”

Nancy April 26, 2009, 12:03 PM

Locking/closing the door so you can finish using the restroom or bathing is guilt-inducing?! Sorry, I have no qualms about attending to my most basic needs. In fact, I think it’s healthy for my kids to start learning boundaries and that the world doesn’t revolve around them 24/7. I would guess the husbands mentioned above probably don’t feel so guilt ridden about setting a few boundaries, which is likely why their children let them use the restroom in peace, so if you want to pee without interruption, then for heaven’s sake, stop worrying and keep the door closed. Child-centeredness has reached the point of insanity, if you ask me!

chris April 27, 2009, 8:11 AM

I think because my mom wasn’t over involved in my life (not that she wasn’t a great mom) but she didn’t feel the need to entertain us kids (4) or watch over us all the time, I feel the need to do just the opposite with my own kids (2) right or wrong. I remember in the summer we would go out in the morning and come home only when we were hungry and my mom never knew exactly where we were - just in the neighborhood. Well these days you can’t just let your kids roam free and explore life on their own so I think that makes to harder to not be with them all the time. I think that makes the kids even more depended on you and you more overproctected of them. It’s a shame, we all lose out because of the craziest of the world we live in.

Jen April 27, 2009, 8:36 PM

I hear you Chris on the crazies but letting your kids roam free is very different from thinking that they have to be in the room when you’re on the toilet. It really is okay to have a minute to pee without the kids there. :)

chris April 28, 2009, 8:31 AM

Jen, I agree completely with you! Trust me when I say that I do go in the bathroom by myself. My point was only that I don’t think our mothers felt the need or guilt of having us hang on them every minute of every day. I remember when I was little, if my mom took a bath and we wanted to talk to her we had to write a note and pass it under the door! I love remembering that because now it just makes me laugh.

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