My boy quit taking baths three-plus years ago in favor of showers. At the time, I was happy to forego the kneeling on the tile floor, but like so many aspects of motherhood, I missed it as soon as it was gone.
For whatever reason, I’d put one of those fizzy bath bombs into my son’s last Christmas stocking or Easter basket despite the fact he hadn’t lounged in the tub in ages. Last night he was covered in dirt after an adventure in the field behind our house. I told him it was time for a shower and for once he was dirty enough that even he didn’t argue with my logic. I headed into the bathroom to start the shower for him, as he still likes me to get the water at just the perfect temp when I remembered the bath bomb and suggested maybe he would like to soak in the tub. Hesitant at first, he pondered the idea. Then he asked what I would do while he was in the tub and I reassured him I would leave so he could have his privacy. Much to my surprise, he said, “Or you could stay if you wanted.”
Yes, I wanted. I wanted to go back to bubble baths and boat races and drying off his perfectly soft skin with the adorable puppy dog towel that I can’t bear to part with. Yes, I wanted to stay.
Because I know he likes his privacy, I said if he wanted to use his boxers as swim shorts that would be fine and he thought that was funny and did so. I gladly knelt on the tile and began to fill the tub with warm water. He anxiously dropped in the bath bomb. The almond buttercream scent filled the room. We took turns holding the foaming ball up to our ears to amplify the fizzing sound. We giggled.
As he scrubbed the dirt from his knees and splashed about I tried to be discrete about wiping my tears. I was happy after all. I was fully aware of what a gift this was. Rarely, do we know when the last time for something is. Often we think we can’t wait to be done cutting the crust off, or tying the shoes, or reading the story again, but when we are no longer asked to do those things it strikes us how precious it was to be needed.
Last night was like replaying your favorite scene of a movie to absorb every last detail or hitting repeat on a song you just can’t hear enough of. Last night was a highlight reel of shampoo mohawks and pruny fingers. While I knelt there I didn’t give a single thought to anything else I should be doing, because now I know this is the most important thing there is.
I took inventory of his freckles. I studied the curve of his face. I poured handfuls of water down his back. I marveled at how big he’s gotten. I wished for a time machine.
This was like visiting a beloved place or person you didn’t think you’d see ever again. And I made sure to enjoy every second of it.
It lasted only a few minutes before he asked if he could shower. I started the shower and left the room. My time was over. He would wash his own hair and use a normal towel to dry off. If he was acting his age, he’d even hang up the towel when he finished. I’ve locked this into my memory as what may be our last bathtime together, but there is a good chance he’ll find a bath bomb in his Christmas stocking just in case…
Mommas of littles, I know you hear it and read it all the time and you’re tired and don’t want to believe it, you can’t believe it, but really you will miss it. Make funny boat sounds, pour in ridiculous amounts of bubble bath, and stay there until your knees ache. You won’t regret it.