One day I was talking with a friend of mine who has two sons and she explained that she usually takes showers with her boys. I thought this was smart, because as moms, sometimes you don’t have the luxury of taking a shower until your spouse comes home to relieve you temporarily.
But I also thought it was weird. One of her sons was less than a year old but the other was reaching close to 3.
“Isn’t it strange to be naked in front of your kids?” I carefully asked, since at this point I was still being mindful of not letting my son see me without clothes (baby 2 had not yet been born). My mom walked around the house in her underwear in bra until we were teenagers and I found it to be super odd considering my brother was nearing his years of early manhood.
“Not really!” she replied. “But actually, the other day my older son did start pointing and asking what certain, um, things were.”
She chuckled a bit and I followed her example in some nervous laughter of my own.
Well, of course this boy would be curious! Obviously that’s why you should let your kids bathe on their own, right?
Recently, I’ve had to deal with being the only parent at home. My husband and I have been separated for a few months now so unless my mom can swing by in the evenings, I don’t get a break at all. I’m living the life of a single mom, except on the nights when my husband visits the kids for two or three hours. Then, we get to pretend to be a unit again and sometimes I shower. But mostly I catch up on work that I can’t do with a toddler hitting me with his trucks and a baby demanding I make eye contact with him until he falls asleep.
I used to try to sneak in showers while the baby slept and my toddler could just bring his toys into the bathroom with me. But now that he’s almost 4, my older son is aware of the fact that it is during these moments when he has the most freedom to do as he pleases because it will take me at least 2 minutes to grab a towel and go chase him down to stop him from making whichever poor choice he is about to make.
Lately his poor choices involve irritating the baby and poking him while he sleeps, so I can’t leave them alone for more than 30 seconds before I hear wailing from the other room. But I have to be clean in order to feel confident (which everyone is telling me is key to moving forward in my marriage limbo), so what did I do last week?
Yep, I took a bath with my kids. I got the water ready, undressed the baby, told the toddler to get ready for a bath, squirted some bubble bath soap into the bottom of the tub, and hopped in with them. My sons had a blast.
The baby played with toys on the tub wall that he normally can’t reach from his seat in the baby tub he is usually confined to, and my older son laughed and smiled for longer than I’ve ever seen him do so since my husband walked out on us. He poured water on the baby’s head and splashed me and played with his toys.
But I actually didn’t get to take a bath because even though I do allow my son to sometimes see me get changed or walk between the bathroom and the dresser to grab my clothes, I couldn’t convince myself that letting my boys watch me clean my most intimate parts, let alone sit on them (as I have to hold the baby in my lap for the water level to be safely below his head) was appropriate.
I’m sure it’s a little different if you’re showering naked and parts aren’t necessarily touching when you’re with your kids and everyone is standing. Yet, I wasn’t comfortable being this exposed in front of my boys, despite their young age. In fact, their age is another reason I was more careful. I’m setting an example for them and while it’s all fine and good to nurture their curiosity and answer questions they may have about the things and people around them, I would prefer they learn some things from a book just like I wouldn’t feel okay if I had a daughter shower with my husband.
So I did what could get me the benefits of this special experience with my boys without the risks of scarring them: I used a bathing suit.
We were able to share this time together without the TV or text messages disturbing us. It was just us and the kid’s CD playing in the background (my husband took custody of our Google Home when he left but she never listened to me anyway…).
I loved this so much but I didn’t really get clean so I still had to spend an extra four or five minutes back in the shower when the hot water was all gone and after getting my sons dressed. But it was worth it and my son was so thrilled to have my undivided attention that he shared his toys with the baby while I showered.
I’ve only tried this twice but I plan to do it more often and refine our routine by finding a way for me to get clean without taking off my swim suit or having to take a separate shower. Next time we will try bath bombs and Christmas lights, too.
Maybe some moms think I’m crazy for doing this or others may judge me for believing I would be traumatizing my boys in some way since a mother and son relationship isn’t sexual, but this is just my opinion on the matter and others are free to do as they please.
I just know that for now, what I choose to do is remain modest near my boys and continue to ensure that I’m respecting their space and bodies, with the notion that each day they’re understanding and taking in way more than I can imagine.