When you become a mum, the realisation gradually dawns that there is very little me-time to be had, especially when it comes to going to the *cough* ladies’ room. Even a quick pee becomes an immersive theatre experience for your knee-high audience. For Dad, it’s a different matter altogether. The toilet becomes his sanctuary, an oasis where he can be alone. Because as I’ve clearly highlighted in the Dad versus Mum blogs so far, all things in parenting are not equal.
Dad’s trip to the toilet
1. Is a Big Event. Such is the anticipation for Dad’s toilet trip, the thirty minutes prior to his trip are spent with various conversation-starters being floated – ‘ooh, this is going to be a big session’ or ‘I’ve got some business to take care of’ or – my personal favourite – ‘I’m having contractions – it’s crowning!’ But that’s nothing compared to the post-poo debrief where a full description of texture, delivery method and aroma will be given to anyone who listens (not Mum).
2. Is a good thirty minutes long. It’s kind of like a mini-spa break, only less fragrant. Total relaxation, perfect peace, a hot cup of coffee to ease things along, and perhaps a little light entertainment courtesy of the Twitter app. Dad sits proudly astride his porcelain friend, without a care in the world.
3. Is totally uninterrupted. He may have announced his intended trip with great fanfare, but nobody wishes to shatter the (slightly pungent) air of tranquillity surrounding his ablutions. For reasons which are only known to the children of the house, nobody wishes to sit in the empty bath and race cars, or chat, nobody wishes to stand between his legs helpfully proffering single, tattered squares of toilet roll, and nobody wishes to sit on dad’s lap, just to be close by. Dad has 30 beautiful minutes all to himself.
4. Might be blighted by an irritating bout of pins and needles, or worse, cramp. Dad has been communing with his bowels a little too long, but will still display signs of intense irritation as he staggers from the bathroom, slapping his legs and bemoaning ‘the one that got away’ as though 30 minutes wasn’t enough to take a dump. This situation is best cured by a nice sit down and another coffee.
5. Isn’t restricted to once per day. Or even twice. Dad may seek the slightly stinky solitude of his own company in the smallest room three or even more times. This flagrant abuse of his advantage does not go unnoticed and the tacit agreement that a man’s toilet is his sanctuary is dead in the water. Dad may find himself receiving small envoys by trip #3 who may discover that no actual business is taking place. Basically, he is just hiding with his smartphone.
Mum’s trip to the toilet
1. Could never rival the significance of dad’s as a pivotal moment in the day. It’s just another personal act which she does not have time for, like plucking her eyebrows, wearing clean clothes and doing yoga. Except this is a task she cannot avoid. The level of interest and scrutiny from other members of the family however, is markedly higher. Dad may pass by, like some sort of turd sommelier and offer a judgemental barb, whilst to the children, mummy doing a poo is akin to a trip to the theatre.
2. Is as quick as possible. Mum can pop the bread down in the toaster, leg it to the bathroom, and be back before the toast has popped up. Time is also very much of the essence when you have an audience of grumpy underlings demanding snacks/drinks/stories/cuddles and refusing to be put down even when Mum reaches the crucial stage.
3. Is almost always interrupted. Most of Mum’s trips to the toilet are spent with one or more children sat on her lap, unraveling the entire toilet roll, pretending the bath is a slide, or breastfeeding. The simple answer to this is, of course, to lock the door. But every mum knows, this is done at her peril. A child denied the opportunity to be at their mother’s side while she performs the necessary act is a deeply unhappy and exceedingly noisy child. Many a bathroom door lock has been shattered by the ear-splitting sound of a child put asunder from their defecating mother.
4. Is a great opportunity for a spot of cleaning. It’s amazing what you notice when you sit down for 30 seconds. Mum wipes dust from the window sill and loo roll holder, removes the numerous empty cardboard tubes, bleaches the loo and cleans the seat and gives the sink a little wash while she does her hands. Never, ever miss an opportunity to multi-task.
5. Once in a blue moon, the stars align, or particularly thrilling episode of Topsy and Tim begins, and Mum gets a tiny, glorious glimpse into Dad’s world. She slips away from the lounge unnoticed, the children contentedly goggling at CBeebies, she grabs her cup of tea (made at least an hour earlier and most definitely cold) and strides briskly to the bathroom, smartphone in hand. She leaves the door ajar (she’s not a total idiot) and sighs contentedly as she settles in for a good three minutes of sitting down. Mum takes a slug of cold tea and checks Facebook. Before she knows it, the sound of a kids’ TV theme tune drifts down the hall, closely followed by the gentle rumble of four small feet, and two voices shouting ‘Mummy! Where’s Mummy?’ As Mum leaves the bathroom, Dad arrives for another innings. Moments later he calls “Darling… Darling?…Are you there? Can you come and get the kids? I’m trying to have a poo for god’s sake”. Welcome to my world sucker, welcome to my world.
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About Alison McGarragh-Murphy
Alison writes and edits stuff for The Motherload®, and is also a radio producer and broadcast journalist, a mum of two and a wife of one. Since becoming a mother she has (mostly) gladly swapped a busy social life of gigs, pubs, art galleries and museums for dancing in the kitchen, drinking on the sofa, finger painting and hanging out at the park. She talks incessantly about not having slept for four years.
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