Wednesday, July 29, 2015

the bathroom stall door

"unless something is bleeding or on fire, i will not discuss it through the bathroom door" is heard at least daily at our house.   i joke about it as much as the next mom.   it is funny, but honestly, every single time i have to say it, another picture comes to mind.   every single time.   

i look at that bathroom door, which i hopefully locked, and hear the calls of "mom!" but i see the door of a public campground bathroom stall.   i feel cold, unfriendly, public tiles that i share with complete strangers beneath my feet.  every single time.   it makes me smile.  every single time.

let me explain.

a few years ago, we came to germany and lived with family.   family that was not used to having 3 kids and crazy, loud, silly, romping, laughing, chaos around.   it was not good.
some friends saw the situation and offered us their camp trailer to live in.   we took it!   we moved into a travel trailer in the german equivalent of a aok or koa camp site in america.   a place to park and a short walk to the lake any time we wanted.   it was also a walk to the bathrooms.   a walk with a wagon full of dishes to the washroom.   a walk to the showers with enough change to pay for hot water.   a walk with a wagon full of laundry and change to the laundry room.    a walk with empty bottles to fetch water to cook with.   

we spent 6 months in that campsite.   mostly winter months.   it was small.  it was hard.  it was cold.   we had hurricane force winds come through that year.   i remember laying in bed praying that the straps would hold everything down as i watched and felt the whole trailer shake wondering if the tent that was our front room would still be there in the morning.    it was better than where we had been.

we were fortunate to be near the bathrooms and in an end site where there wasn't much traffic.   living in a camper the size of most living rooms with no yard and an active 2 year old is crazy.   we were also fortunate to be able to get a stove and larger fridge about half way through.   no more just cooking on a hot plate, i had a fridge large enough for more than that days meals and oven to cook them.   whoo-hoo!   

we did finally move into a house.   whenever i stand at the kitchen sink that is lower than any american sink i have ever seen, washing dishes with a sore back, i think about how grateful i am that i'm in my kitchen.   my kids are playing in their rooms, or in the yard, or in the living room . . .there is a whole house and yard for them to be in!   seems silly.   we always had all those things before, but i never appreciated them until i didn't have them anymore.   
whenever i hear the kids whine about their rooms, i am glad they have rooms and not bunks that they call their rooms.
whenever i send my youngest out to play, i am relieved that he can go play in a yard and not a driveway full of gravel i share with the camper next door.
whenever i work on the ever present mountain of laundry, i am grateful that i only have to haul it from one room to another and it doesn't cost me 6€ to wash and dry one load.
whenever i turn on the sink, i feel so blessed for running water in my kitchen.   dumping noodles into a colander in the sink to drain them is a privilege we did not have for a while.   
every time mother nature calls in the night and i stumble to the potty, i am grateful i don't have to put on a coat and robe and shoes to trudge out in the night with key in hand so i can use a cold public stall.

it's been a few years, but i still see that camper and campsite as i move through my normal daily life.   i know that camper was more than a lot of people have and i was always grateful for it.   we grew as a family, we came to appreciate what we had.   i can put an end to most of the kids complaining with , "but it isn't . . . .".   
life is busier.   there is a lot more to do.    i still get caught up in the rush of life and forget how much i have sometimes.   there is one things that keeps me grateful.   there is still one thing that lifts my heart every time.   it's the morphing of my white wood bathroom door.   i hear a knock, or the call of "mom!" and that door changes before my eyes.   i see a metal stall door hanging there, like a ghost that materializes before me.   a piece of me just smiles and sighs with relief and  thanksgiving.   

one day, i looked around me.   the streets, and cars, and trees always the same and i thought, "what if tomorrow it was gone?"   what if tomorrow i lived somewhere else?  what if?   the trees looked greener that day.   i noticed the little beautiful hidden surprises that always hide in our hurried lives.   i saw the whole world as if the first time and i realized that it was new again.   

i'm still busy.   i'm still unorganized and chaotic.   lots of things still make me crazy.   i may never appreciate some of the annoying things of life, but now i see the really great things all around and it kind of overpowers the irritations.   not always, but sometimes.

close your eyes and imagine that you will have to leave everything tomorrow.   now, look around, walk through your day as if it's the last day that you will have it.   might not miss going to work, but i bet you would miss the paycheck.   might not miss the traffic but i bet you would miss the car.  you might not miss somethings, but there will be much much more you would. 

the next time you go into a public bathroom, imagine that being the only bathroom door you have.   when you say, "i just want to "go" in peace", imagine those other people's voices, strangers being on the other side of that door instead of your kids calling for mom.     you will still tell them that you are not discussing anything that isn't bleeding or on fire through the bathroom door.   you will also be grateful that you can.