Now is my chance. I slink along the wall and retreat one small tiptoe at a time towards the open bathroom door and close it slowly without so much as a creak. Sigh. Do I have time to reply to a text? Can I figure out what the heck “Covfefe” means? My gut says no as, judging by the proximity of the avalanche of Legos that I hear spilling across the floor, it puts them in the living room. I have approximately three minutes—four tops—before they start asking me where the red sword (or some other random piece) is. At least that’s enough time to tap a few red hearts on Insta and even wipe if I do it quickly.
And then, I hear it. Silence. A mother’s most coveted and dreaded sound, or rather absence of it. They are close. Too close.
My eyes dart up to the doorknob. It jiggles slowly yet methodically, but I remembered to lock it rendering me safe for a few more seconds. I draw in a breath and start fumbling for the toilet paper, bracing myself for the pounding and the yelling, but it never comes.
Instead, I see one finger slide slowly and cautiously under the door, and then another, followed by more silence. In a way this is oddly more disconcerting than the shouting. I look at those two little reminders of the fact that, when you are a parent, there may be four stolen minutes here or there, maybe an occasional girls’ night, date night, or even a midday manicure, but you are never free from the responsibility and could be called back at any moment. Every good night sleep is one vomit episode, one (or ten) night feeds, or one nightmare away from being devoted to your babes. That can be as daunting as it is gratifying, just like any worthwhile endeavor tends to be. I know that in a blink of an eye, I will be spending sleepless nights holding my breath as the clock ticks closer to curfew, so for now I am just trying to soak in every season of motherhood as it comes.
Within a matter of days, we will be welcoming a precious new baby into our family, rendering my bunker even less reliable. One would think that because this is not my first rodeo, I would be more prepared, but I actually feel more nervous now than ever. The other day, I started freaking out because we haven’t even had time to pack our hospital bag yet, to which my husband jokingly responded by grabbing a water bottle, a banana, and a granola bar off of the kitchen counter, tossed them in a plastic sack and declared that task checked off the list. Even though there are countless unknowns, I think with this third time around, I don’t have any illusions that it’s going to be an ever-blissful cake walk. Even though this inside knowledge can be unsettling, I am grateful for it because it comes with the confidence that you not only survive, but thrive during the bits that feel impossible. I also know that it’s not only okay to ask for help, but it’s equally okay to accept it. It’s okay to feel completely overwhelmed and no one will judge you for chugging hot coffee or chilled wine while you are locked in a bathroom. Even if they are somewhat of an illusion, these small respites are essential for sanity’s sake.
I glance back down at those sweet little fingers, which are still silently staring at me, and I love them with my whole heart. They will always be there watching. Every move is being scrutinized, admired, and modeled after. It’s an awesome responsibility, and as my dad says, it’s life.
Marissa B. Niranjan is a soon-to-be mamma of three and although she has completely given up hope of ever peeing alone again, she is eternally grateful for her audience.