I'm in the shower. It's 9pm and it's the first time since 6am that I've been alone. The hours flew by in a haze of dirty dishes and dirty diapers, putting the baby down and the dog out, discussing / cajoling / arguing food choices with Grady at every meal, and the other assorted chaos that comes with winter break (no routine! Lots of sugary treats! Less sleep! More sass!).
The door opens slowly and Shawn cautiously comes into the bathroom. He knows I need this break. He doesn't want to interrupt. But he's holding a grinning Poppy, milky vomit dripping from her chin and a full diaper peeking out from her pyjamas. "She just exploded," he tells me, trying not to gag, "from both ends."
He strips the baby and hands her to me and all of a sudden my steamy oasis becomes a wrestling match. I rinse Poppy the best I can while she tries to squirm out of my arms, and hand her back to Shawn so I can quickly rinse myself while Poppy howls her displeasure at the indignity of having a clean diaper and fresh pyjamas put on her.
It won't always be like this, I tell myself through gritted teeth and shoulders that have found their way up to my ears. One day I will stay in the shower until it runs cold. No one will need me. No one will be standing outside the door waiting to ask me to go get them a glass of milk before I even have the chance to towel off. I will wash and condition my hair and exfoliate my face and shave everything I want to shave all in the same shower instead of inspecting my legs to see which one I shaved last time and which one gets the special treatment this time. And it will be wonderful and terrible at the same time.
It won't always be like this. But this is what it is right now. It is messy and exhausting and relentless and mine. I will hold onto it -to them- for as long as I can.