Do Not Enter

I considered myself well prepared for motherhood, or as prepared as possible anyway. I took classes, read books, and got good prenatal care. I listened to the sage advice and wisdom of those who’d gone before me. I understood that my life and purpose would be irrevocably changed. I knew that the center of my universe had shifted from myself and my husband to those tiny humans, and that our needs and desires must naturally be pushed aside to ensure their well-being.

I embraced motherhood wholeheartedly and welcomed the change. I was even happy to give up my dignity, privacy and ownership of my body to nourish my children through pregnancy and that first critical year, but I apparently labored under a misapprehension.  I assumed that once my children could eat from the table and achieved a certain level of self-sufficiency, that I could, once again, expect a reasonable amount of privacy, that I would be allowed to bathe, dress, and use the facilities without company or interruption – for the most part.

Apparently, I was sadly mistaken because my children have an uncanny ability to intuitively detect the exact moment that my decency is in any way compromised and choose that moment to knock on the door and, quite often, enter before asked. I can predict with unfailing accuracy that if either of my children are in the vicinity, within five seconds of the removal of my clothes, one of them will demand my immediate audience.

Case in point, a few weeks ago we threw a barbecue for some friends passing through town. The day was warm; and I dressed accordingly, but with nightfall, we were still sitting out on the patio. I got chilly. My children were playing in the yard next door with their friends, and I excused myself from the group of adults to go inside and change into jeans and a light sweater. I had no sooner shucked off my dress than my youngest child knocked on the bedroom door! “Mommy,” she said, starting to open the door. I hustled over and pushed the door closed. “What is it?” I asked, impatiently. Undaunted, she replied, “Can I have more food?” Are you kidding me!?

The food was outside. Her father was also outside, and never mind the fact that we had never denied our children food, except maybe sweets. What bizarre, unseen force had compelled my child to leave her friends in the yard next door, walk through our yard, across the patio past four adults, through the backdoor, down the hall, up the stairs, and down another hall to seek me out at that precise moment?

“Are you bleeding?” I asked. “Uh, no,” she answered, confused. “Is your sister bleeding? Did she fall down and knock herself out?” Again the answer was, “no.” “So, you came up here just to ask me for food?” “Yes?” Her answer came out like a question. “Grace, go ask your father!”

What is it that makes my children seek me out the moment I choose to do anything which requires undressing? Because it’s not just Grace who does this, our 12-year-old, Breanna, does it, too! Just a few days ago, Breanna had three friends spend the night. The next morning, I left them in the kitchen getting their breakfast and went upstairs to the furthest bathroom I could use away from them. I had just disrobed when someone knocked on the door. Thoroughly exasperated, I snapped, “What is it?” Breanna answered and said, “Mommy, can I have the last brownie?” What?!?!

Now, this child should know that unless it is Armageddon and the end of the world as we know it, she’s not getting a brownie or any other kind of sweet for breakfast – not even a donut! She further knows that if my bedroom or bathroom door is closed, she better be hurt or the house on fire before she knocks on it. I made that clear after the barbecue incident. Maybe she thought the rules were different because her friends were here, and it was almost her birthday. I don’t know what went through the child’s head, but my answer was, “No! And if you knock on that door again, you won’t get another brownie as long you live!” Puberty must be eating holes in her brain because she actually said, “But, mom!” Suffice it to say, I ate the last brownie.

 

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