Row row row your family boat

Row row row your boat
gently down the stream
merrily merrily merrily merrily
Life is But A Dream

It was about six in the evening and the lights were casting long drawn out patterns across the recently renovated bathroom tiles. I had managed a shower, on my own, where I was able to wash my hair with peppermint and cedar wood scented products. I had shaved my long, over-grown underarm and leg hairs in the shower, both of which are something of an odd occurrence. I delight in shaving, and the feeling of the cascading water on my smooth and naked skin as the beads tickle and trickle downwards to gather in a pool of dark hairs just before falling as a heap down the silver-coasted drain in the shower recess.

‘Mum!’ exclaimed the voice of an excited almost- 2-year-old and my son clambered into the bathroom, stopping short of the entrance to the open shower where he proceeded to rock back and forward gently whilst grabbing the front of his nappy. I took this as a sign that he wanted to come in with me, so I leant gingerly over and unstuck the tabs to let the plastic cover fall to the ground. Mr A had followed close behind and he scooped up the offending parcel to take it off to the bedroom bin.

‘Wanna get in?’ I enquire as I reach to switch off the shower and then turn and hold out my arms for Master X. He had slipped too many times in the wet area of the bathroom to brave the slick tiles without at least an offer of guidance. He gingerly stepped towards the bath, taking only meagre shuffles in his pursuit of the warmth that defined the bath and then waited for the final lift of my arms to bring him over the lip and into the bath. I entered behind him, letting out a soothing sound as the heat of the water encased my body and massaged away the soreness of the day. Carrying a 30 week old foetus was tough business for my back and glutes and the feeling of heat was nothing short of wondrous.

I had had a tough day and wanted to re-join the world and the bath was my ticket out of downer town and back into the game of life. I had hid enough that day, holed up in the darkened living room watching episode after episode of the new cult show about teen bullying and the dire consequences of missing the story that hides behind smiles and confidence. It was a dangerous choice to view when I was feeling particularly low from a not-so-good psychiatrist appointment on Monday where I was once again told that coming off my medications was only going to have dire consequences. I had planned a bath all day, in my head, and was going to have it earlier say, after lunch, or early afternoon but I just kept consuming the episodic films that were beckoning my attention and feeding my mood.

Master X laughed as he splashed a large container of water over his own head, mimicking my own actions when I wash my hair of an evening. You are probably picturing some long, gushing flow of locks but in fact my hair is short and spiky, although not enough of either of those characteristics if you ask me. His laughter brings me back to the moment and I find myself desperately yearning for a hug from my son, to feel our skin touch and to have that rush of the love hormone that you only get when you hug someone close to you, who you love dearly and so deeply that it breaks your heart. However Master X had other ideas and fought desperately to be free from my arms, the invitation despised and the promise of the rush dissipating as the moment passed.

‘No’ Master X proclaimed in his slightly higher-pitched than normal and clipped voice that is reserved only for this dissenting word. He shook his head and moved further from me toward the other end of the bath, picked up another device with which to scoop water and pour, but this time outside the bath confines making the ground at the base of the adjoining shower all wet and slippery again. Okay, so this is not working out how I had planned. I took a deep breath and decided to try to engage with him in play even though faking happiness is not what I really felt like doing at that time. I just wanted love (I know now from writing this, that play is a sign of love. Doofus!).

The door to the bathroom slid open quietly and I saw Mr A try to sneak in to collect the rest of Master X’s clothes that had fallen to the side of the vanity unit.

‘Oi, you coming in?’ I questioned him as I indicated to the water which by this stage, steamed up the glass above the vanity unit.

‘You want me to?’ he replied and I nod fiercely in agreement, joined by the cries of Master X for ‘mumum mumum!’ Mr A quickly stripped off his clothes and peeled off his underwear to step into the shower recess.

‘Oh, there’ll be no water babe. You’ll have to wash yourself in the bath,’ I directed him as I splash a little of the still hot water towards his face. Mr A swatted the water with his hand and then proceeded to reach for the water knob and began a flow from the rain-water shower head. He reached out gingerly to touch the water, and then returned his hand to the knob a times before agreeing that the water was too cold for a shower. He looked more than a little annoyed and I reassured him again by pointing out that he can have a wash in the bath as he will be the only person in there.

‘What, so you want my grubby, slimy body in that clean water with your clean body?’ he inquired while not even trying to hide the disgust.

‘Master X hasn’t had a wash yet either,’ I reminded him as I tugged his hand to join us in the bath. Mr A sunk into the water with a deep sigh and reluctantly agreed that the water was ‘spot on’ for temperature. I still felt pretty out of it form the down mod I had been in all day so I thought that I should sing a song as music is often a key to destressing for me. But the only son I could think of was Row Row Row Your Boat. So I sang it. Over and over again in different keys, higher and lower pitches and one final time with the actions of rowing.

Mr A shot me a funny look and Master X suddenly turned to me for a cuddle. At long last I felt like I could relax and breathe, and I could actually feel the water. It might be a crazy way to go about it, but the nourishing water, open arms of my baby and the querying but loving gaze of my husband had somehow brought me back to an even keel. In a way, life is really a dream in that we can only choose certain aspects and pathways. And I am glad that I chose this pathway today.


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