The clock shows 10:30 AM. I am sitting in the basement, scrolling through my twitter feed, Laddu playing nearby. The lights are on, music is loud and the twins are dancing. The sound of a drill punctures the air every once in a while indicating the folks installing our water softener were at work. It is Laddu’s nap time. I take in the din surrounding me and realize getting her to nap even two stories above would be a hard sell. So, I stay where I am and let the phone rest by my side. Pattu is now hula-hooping and I cheer her on. Laddu comes to me of her own accord and clutches my ear signaling she needs to sleep. I lay her on my shoulders and walk upstairs.
I lay her on her crib, remember to turn the monitor on and look at the time. 11:00 AM. I hurry to the kitchen and focus on the next meal. The next hour zooms past between cooking and dishes. My luck holds on; Ammu and Pattu are still playing, Laddu is sleeping and the workmen are done. I sign the receipt, see them off and look around.
I could actually sneak in a shower.
I feel joy fill me up. I rush downstairs, haul Ammu and Pattu up, turn the TV on after lecturing them on the importance of being quiet for the next thirty minutes. The receiver buzzes with the sound of Laddu preparing to wake. My heart sinks. I listen keenly and she seems to go right back to sleep. I can’t suppress my grin. I grab the monitor, hurry to my closet, pull out my clothes for the day and make it to the bathroom.
The sound of a lawnmower rends the air. I give up and seat myself on the edge of the tub sure that Laddu will wake. A minute passes. Nothing. I gingerly place my towel on the shower door and give it another minute. Nothing. I make sure I have everything I need to wash my hair and get in the shower stall. The monitor rustles. I pause. Nothing.
“Mom, Mom!” Pattu’s voice carries all the way into the bathroom. I wrap myself in a towel and meet her halfway. Shushing her, I realize the program they were watching ended and they need the channel changed. Struggling to keep my frustration at bay, I do the needful and rush upstairs after a dozen instructions not to a) yell b) come upstairs c) move from the sofa. They nod, their eyes glazed and glued to the static TV screen. I hit play and tiptoe past Laddu’s room and make it to the bathroom door when the mower stops and the shrill noise of the edge cutter starts. I almost cry from despair. Still not a sound on the monitor. I cannot believe my luck!
The shower now starts to represent more than just a shower. It is aspiration. It is freedom. It is liberation. It is me time. It is a symbol of everything I want that is hauntingly within reach. I am determined to have it. I have visions of the crisp, cold, softened water flowing and the soap refusing to wash away. I am almost salivating at the idea of a shower. I make it inside and turn the shower on this time. Even as I reach for the oil for my hair, I clearly hear Ammu on the monitor going “Laddu!”. I almost drop the bottle. I am ready to cry.
I give up, sink to the floor and feel the water wash over me. I am out in a record two minutes. I walk purposefully towards Laddu’s door intending to let Ammu have it. Even as I open the door and watch the two of them play peek a boo, the ridiculous-ness of it all hits me. I dissolve in laughter joined by all three kids.
It’s a mom’s life.