p(image-left). !/assets/26010/msteadman.jpg(Maraya Steadman)! Last night I was putting the world’s best pizza wheel away in the drawer full of all those kitchen utensils that don’t go anywhere else, and my son asked, “Hey, can I play with that?” He was reaching inside the drawer for a yellow plastic funnel. “Sure,” I answered. And off he went, very pleased about something, some idea brewing in his mind. I paused and watched him bounce out of the kitchen and wondered what he was up to, then I went back to washing the dishes. Later, I found the yellow plastic funnel on top of the toilet. I didn’t ask why. I actually find a lot of things in my bathroom. Plastic funnels on the toilet; mermaids in the sink; purple ghoul heads the size of a tennis ball that squirt water out of a bulging eyeball at your little sister; astronauts; and, once, a large cardboard box in my bathtub. Although I decided I wasn’t asking about the funnel, I did ask about the cardboard box in the tub. It was there so my son could be a scary turtle and scare Mommy while she was going potty. Right, I do remember that. The astronauts? Well, they were there to kill the aliens. In our house, I have my own bathroom. When we bought the house I thought this novelty would somehow make a difference in my life. I thought I would have my own space without bath toys or soggy Pull-Ups on the floor. A place where there were no little creatures or aliens or ghoul heads. Where there were no scary turtles in the bathtub and I could actually pee without an audience or even take a shower by myself. As soon as my youngest daughter hears the sound of me turning on the shower, she appears and asks, “Mommy, are you taking a show-yer? Can I come in?” My bathroom is some sort of freakish depository for weird plastic stuff and a magnet for young children. I once read a bestseller where at the end of the book the childless single author ridicules the suburban mother by telling us that she is living our fantasy. The author of the book assumes that suburban mothers fantasize about going to remote South Pacific Islands with sexy middle-aged Brazilian men. Actually, that’s not one of my fantasies. I do fantasize about being alone in a bathroom. It’s quiet. I can’t hear anybody fighting. My shower lasts forever and ever and I never run out of hot water because I forgot to hit the delay button on the dishwasher or because I did a load of laundry after dinner. I get out of the shower, and nobody asks me, “What’s that?” as I am getting dressed. Then I notice a cardboard box. Inside I see a plastic funnel, a purple ghoul head, a mermaid and 13 astronauts. And I hear a 3-year-old voice outside my bathroom door asking me, “Mommy, can I come in?”
_Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at_ "firstname.lastname@example.org":mailto:email@example.com.