The other day I was on the loo and the kids wandered into the bathroom to see what I was doing. I used to shut the bathroom door as a line-in-the-sand type move, figuring I was at the very least owed a few minutes of privacy. But these days they hit each other whenever I’m not around to stop them so now I’m one of those on-the-toilet-with-the-door-open parents. I was absolutely certain that I’d never do that. You always think you’ll never be one of those people, whoever “those people” are for you, and then your kids always prove you wrong.
So, I’m on the loo and the kids come in to the bathroom. They ask what I’m doing, of course. I tell them I’m doing a poo, because, well, I am.
‘I are doing a poo, too!’ announces June, happily. Then her small face turns serious. She gazes at me. This seems to be important to her, so I follow suit. We stare into each other’s eyes, without blinking or breaking eye contact, and we do our poos, me in the loo and she in her nappy. We poo together.
They are crowding the toilet to look at it before I’ve even pulled my pants up.
And that’s the whole thing about parenting. That absolute intimacy. Every aspect of your body, your life, your choices, every facet of your personality, all laid totally bare, exposed to the little people with whom you suddenly share your house. There is no hiding from your own children. I’ve always been shy and it is, frankly, terrifying. Truthfully, I’m jealous of “those people”, as I see them in my imagination. The mums and dads who would never have shut the toilet door in the first place. The easily intimate.
But kids, you know? The whole point is that they reshape you and make you better than you were the hard way. And for me that means that try as I might to ring off little corners and spaces for myself, to find some privacy amid all the madness, the better the kids get at smashing down those walls. Or at least banging on them and asking what I’m doing until I give in and open the door. At least two-year-olds are wonderfully non-judgemental. The kids watch me poo and see me do even more hideously shameful stuff like weep pathetically when I’m worried my tomato seedlings will die because I didn’t water them… and I’m seen but I’m just mummy and that’s what I’m like and somehow it is fine. It’s okay to just be me is a concept I still haven’t fully grasped but perhaps I’m not going to be given a choice.