By Carrie Bentley

Mothers can struggle to take care of themselves. For example, I am an introvert. This means that I love to spend time with people, but I also need time alone to recharge my energy. As a mother, the best self-care I can get is a few hours to myself. My children, on the other hand, have ancient knowledge that mothers must not ever be left alone. They want to share my snacks and sleep in my bed. They stare at me while I sleep and yell while I am on the phone. They sing and tell stories and ask the same question six times in a row. If I say I need some time alone, they ask if they can come along. It’s all wonderful, but at times wonderfully overwhelming. Alone time can be hard to find.

I like to hide from my kids in the bathroom. In my mind, the bathroom is a great place to hide, but my kids seem to think the bathroom has an open-door policy. I’ve had this conversation with many other parents. Regardless of whether these children are the small human variety or the fur covered four-legged kind, parents face two equally bad choices: leave the door open so they can just come in or shut the door and listen to scratching and cries of abandonment from outside.

Even if each kid is engrossed in an activity and I tiptoe to the bathroom, the second that door closes one of them is knocking or barging right in to ask a pressing question. One time, my two small sons began banging on the door to ask what I was doing in there. I informed them, in a loving motherly way, that I just needed five seconds away from them. The oldest counted to five out loud and then opened the door for the smaller boy who declared that if I didn’t want them to come in, I should have locked the door.

On another occasion, my boys were choosing to ignore me when I asked them to go brush their teeth before bed. I snuck off to the bathroom to give myself a few seconds alone to regroup. I closed the bathroom door. Almost immediately, the door opened. Three boys filed into the bathroom and stared at me with blank looks on their faces. It was as if they had been summoned to the bathroom but didn’t know why. I told them to brush their teeth and they did it, no questions asked.

Recently, I had just walked into the bathroom when my youngest stuck his head in. He didn’t need anything, he was just keeping me in his line of vision. I asked him to give me some privacy and he flung the bathroom door wide open and stood in the doorway staring at me. I informed him that this was almost exactly the opposite of privacy. He looked back at me and apologetically said, “Well, then I guess I don’t really know what privacy means.”

Honestly, I don’t really remember what privacy is either.

Carrie Bentley lives in Bottineau with her husband, three boys (ages 10, 7, and 4), and two cats. As a stay-at-home mom, she spends most of her time finding lost items, answering odd questions, cooking meals no one will eat, and snuggling. She enjoys reading, playing board games, and spending time outdoors.