The purpose of bath time has evolved during my lifetime. I remember bathing with my younger sister, watching the water run down the drain. I remember pretending our bathtub was a very, very small pool as my dad, sister, and I donned our swimsuits and splashed around.
As I got older, baths were replaced with quicker showers. And when I did take a bath it wasn’t as much for the purpose of maintaining personal hygiene, but as a relaxation technique.
Back in college, there was one year when I had no classes scheduled on Friday’s. And for a blissful few hours, I had the house all to myself. I still lived at home, and privacy wasn’t something that came easily. Friday mornings, it was bubble bath time. I would set up the bathroom, bringing in my boom box, with an appropriate cassette tape suitable for a relaxing bubble bath. I would light a multitude of candles on the sink countertop and along the edge of the bathtub. Finally, I would fill the tub with warm water and a floral-scented bubble bath. Bliss.
When my husband and I first moved in together, it was easier to get privacy. He often worked late nights, and I was able to have time for a private bubble bath. Except, our first apartment had a tub with sliding shower doors. I detested those doors and longed for a shower curtain. It was harder to set up my candles around the tub. Harder to see my candles flicker on the sink countertop. But I adapted.
In our current home, with two and a half bathrooms, it was much easier to retreat into a bubble bath, especially because both tubs are door-free. Again, I lit candles, had music playing, and sank into lavender-scented bubbles.
Becoming a Mommy made my bath time more difficult to coordinate. By the end of the day, I was too exhausted to set up my bath. I just wanted to shower and get it over with so I could finally sleep. Still, I tried to make time to take a bath and succeeded once a month -- if I was lucky.
My medical condition has complicated the situation. My thirty-seven year old body feels so much older when I can’t get myself out of the tub. Sometimes, I’m forced to prop myself on all fours, holding onto the edge of the tub and the bar on the wall, using all my might to get myself into a standing position. Other times, I’m reliant on my husband to hoist me up. My bubble bath feels wonderful while I’m in it, but afterwards pain often settles in.
Sometimes I experience a bath hangover -- legs that feel heavy, a body depleted of energy, and a throbbing in my left calf. But, because not every bath ends that way, when I’m having a good night, pain-wise, I still take my chances and submerge myself into bubbles while I escape into the current novel I’m reading.
I need to remind myself that self-pity won’t accomplish anything. I cannot become despondent about what my body can no longer do. My baths are changing. If it gets to the point where the pain afterwards exceeds the pleasure during, then I will simply have to stop taking my bubble baths.
After all, I can’t bathe in the kitchen sink anymore, either.