I used to take a lot of baths when I was pregnant. At least, when I wasn't bleeding. It was the ultimate self-care for me, locking the door, blowing up my inflatable tub pillow for my head, dropping in a Lush bath bomb, and putting on a This American Life podcast if I was lucky. I loved to watch my babies roll and squirm in my growing belly and spend that time watching my skin stretch and move.
A few years ago Alice was in the shower with Dr. Brown. After sitting below him in the tub for a while, playing with her toys as the water sprinkled around them, she looked up and said, when I grow up I want to have a big, big, BIG peanut like yours, Daddy. At four-years-old, she often confused the word peanut with penis. When we laughed and told her that it was more likely she'd grow up to have big, big, BIG breasts like mommy, she cried.
Lucy is twelve now, and has been taking solo showers for years. These past few months, though, they've become longer, with top 40 radio music blaring and the door locked until I finally bang on it after half an hour yelling that she's used up all the hot water available. She won't let us come in when she's dressing anymore or see her naked at all. I can tell she's desperate for her privacy.
Last night I was in the tub with Arlo. I remembered those long leisurely baths with him in my belly, and some of his first earth-side where he laid on top of that same belly, this time out and in my careful hands. I'd feel his pink skin and he'd root around for my breast with his baby bird mouth. He's two now, and so strong and big and we barely fit in our small midcentury tub together anymore, not comfortably at least. It was a bath derived from necessity rather than pleasure - I was sick with body aches and a sore throat and a fever. Arlo turned over and we laid belly to belly while he kicked and laughed and bunched up my soft stretched out belly and kneaded it, giving it gentle kisses. That used to be your home, I told him. In many ways, it still is.