For sixteen years, we lived in an old farmhouse. In the winter, it was an old cold farmhouse. The tub pictured above often became a place of both warmth and respite.
It was always a place to read. And yes, it was an escape from noisy, needy children.
The tub was deep, and long enough that I could not reach the faucet with my feet unless I pointed my toes. I’d start out with very hot water – and as it cooled, I’d drain a bit and then add more hot to extend my time of “retreat”. I could fully immerse myself under the water and relax in the soothing warmth.
At times, those little girls I’d be in retreat from would attempt to infiltrate and plead to join me. When the water was finally cool enough, I’d sometimes give in and ultimately my place of escape was no more. It was time to bail and leave them to their play.
As an at-home momma, the occasional “abandonment” of my children felt necessary and was ultimately beneficial for them. Their father supported my retreat because he knew that the care of many small ones is hard work. Some days, he suggested I might need a bath. Being in the tub gave me permission to say “I can’t get _____, I can’t fix_______, I can’t come right now … I’m in the tub. Daddy can help.” Taking a bath gave reason to delay responding to their needs for at least a short period of time guilt-free – and motherhood already has enough guilt.
The long, relaxing, hot baths are far more rare these days. The need to retreat is mostly gone. There are no more children knocking at the door, no requests for this or that. The house I live in now is newer, warmer, and far more quiet than that farmhouse ever was.
The quiet is wonderful.
The quiet is bittersweet.