Sometimes 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.