Privacy, Please.

FullSizeRenderSometimes when I’ve lost the will to parent, I pretend that I have to poop.

“I need to go to the bathroom!” I’ll announce loudly grabbing a magazine and pounding upstairs to the bathroom my husband and I share.

Not 30 seconds into the New Yorker—which I read back to front, first reading the cartoons, next making a mental note of the articles I want to read but in all likelihood won’t read—I see shadows move beneath the door, like a shark lurking beneath the water’s surface.

“Mama, what are you doing?” my four-year-old son Jasper asks.

“Pooping!” I lie. Will he believe me? He leaves, then returns a moment later and parks himself in front of the door. Then I hear the familiar rattle and crash of Legos landing on the floor. Sigh.

One time when my need to use the bathroom was genuine, my daughter Zora slipped a note under the door.

“I miss you,” it said.

Of course, when they’re really in dire need of attention, the kids barge right in. My daughter did this last week and immediately regretted her actions.

“It smells in here,” she said, wrinkling her nose.

“Hmm, I wonder why?!” I replied sarcastically.

Kids aren’t the only ones who ignore the closed door. Once when my sister-in-law was visiting our family, my husband and I took the opportunity to sneak upstairs for a quickie. Five minutes into our tryst, my sister-in-law opened the door to ask something. “Hey!…Oh, my God!” she muttered, blue eyes widened, her jaw dropped, and she quickly slammed the door.

Five years after moving into our condo and after countless interruptions, we decided enough was enough and bought and installed three doorknobs with locks.

Not long afterward, we enjoyed a lazy Sunday afternoon at home. The kids sprawled on Zora’s bed engrossed in Minecraft videos, and my husband and I stretched on the couch reading. My husband removed the book How To Manage Your Strong-Willed Child out of my hands, placed his head in my lap, and grinned expectantly at me. I tried to deflect by asking him if he thought that Jasper was regular kid who thrived on routine, but I may as well have been speaking Tagalog to him. He placed his hand behind my head and pulled me down for a meaningful kiss. Deciding to go along for the ride, I let myself be led upstairs into our bedroom. We locked the door and undressed and jumped under the covers. The bright afternoon light fell across our bodies. As I traced my finger down his breastbone, I heard the familiar, “Mommy?!” Then the door rattled. Ha! Locked!

“Go away!” Rodney barked.

“Mommy? What are you doing?” Jasper asked.

“Snuggling with Daddy,” I yelled.

“Why?” he asked.

“Go away,” Rodney barked again.

A pair of small feet padded down the hall. Spell broken, I looked at my husband and rolled my eyes. At least we have privacy.

 

The Results: My Month Without Women’s Magazines

At the beginning of the month, I decided to go Women’s Magazine Detox. Here are the results:

Day 5: I cheated a little bit. More magazine had a piece called “How To Command a Room” and I figured that had more to do with empowerment and sharing my best self rather than thinking I wasn’t good enough, so I read it, skimming past the anti-aging creams and best new spring outfits.

Day 6: While at BJs, I snuck a peek at some haircuts. With my renewed focus on myself, a new haircut fits the bill. Cheating? Hhmmm. Yes. Forgiveness? Yes, too.

Day 11: Getting better at passing by those glossies now.

Headline: The UNDiet: Eat like a normal person and still lose weight.

My Response: Who says I need to lose weight?

Headline: Your Body’s Dream Suit Is Inside

My Response: You can go swimming in a sweat suit??

Headline: Kristen Stewart’s Beauty Rules to live by.

My Response: Does it involve a perpetual sneer?

Day 22: I’m redefining the rules so that I can read personal essays, books, personal finance, and food and while skimming by any article that smacks of improvement, makeup and dressing for my body type. There’s not a lot to read.

Day 27: Homestretch! Work and my personal life have been challenging this week, and typically, when I feel this way, I “treat” myself to a manicure, a new lipstick, or a new book. But when I walked by the nail salon, I thought to myself, “Perfect nails won’t make me feel better,” and I kept walking. When I strolled into Macy’s on my lunch break, didn’t even glance at glittering tubes of lipsticks and glosses, “Who am I trying to look good for?” I asked myself. Even the New in Paperback table didn’t tempt me. “I have a shelves of books at home that I haven’t read.” At long last, I am recognizing these storms of insecurity and discomfort and letting them pass.

Here are some of my new treats:

  • a cup of chai
  • meditating
  • yoga
  • not checking email on my day off
  • going to the gym
  • writing in my journal
  • Cadbury mini dark chocolate eggs

 Summing It Up

O Magazine, Real Simple, Allure, and Redbook continue to arrive in my mailbox, but their glossy pages of “50 Great Drug Store Buys!”, “How to Dress Your Shape,” and “The Best Foods That You Are Not Eating,” have lost their allure. While these articles and magazines take on the voice of a helpful friend, I realize now that they all have the same message: You’d be [insert adjective here: prettier, slimmer, smarter, healthier, more efficient] if you bought [insert product they are trying to sell.]