Step in Puddles

By Susan Kawa

I like to step in puddles. Especially when I'm wearing nice shoes. Call me a loon, but it's the truth. I think it's an extension of the "simple pleasures" philosophy, which has become my mantra since having children. Because big pleasures are simply out of the question.

This is a time in my life to treasure. My children are small and energetic, and learning the delights of a world new and interesting to them. That's what I hear from friends, neighbors, experts, and the sum of the world population who routinely go home and use the bathroom in peace.

And, on one level, they're absolutely right. That said, let me console the rest of you who hear those sweet words in one ear, but occupy the same boat as me. The one floating out in the middle of some lake, with two children and one cookie.

I have no time I can safely call my own. No time for myself. Not even when I'm sleeping. If I climb into the shower for a few moments of relaxation, they pound on the door, or toss Power Rangers and the Swamp Monster in with me (often hitting me in the head). Sometimes they shriek, because they like the echo in the bathroom.

When I take a walk, they simply MUST accompany me, study every bug along the way, beg to knock on playmates' doors, microscopically skin a knee - and demand to be carried home. Upside down.

Has any parent ever succeeded in reading an entire newspaper article, or downing a full cup of coffee, when living with small children? Without 72 interruptions, including a half-dozen trips to the bathroom? I have to narrate my "getting dressed" procedure. Because the alternative is getting narrated - which is much more embarrassing. I cannot blow-dry my hair in one session. Folding a load of laundry can take upwards of 45 minutes, with assistance.

I do not "run to the store", since there are two children with missing shoes, favorite toys, car seats, and opinions about who sits where in the cart. I cannot enjoy a trip to the hairdresser, with two in tow. In fact, we qualify as a traveling carnival. I'm resigned to sport the simplest haircut known to man, and I'm considering the bowl.

Painting my fingernails means ALSO painting the fingernails of everyone else in the house, including the cat (have you tried this? Let me tell you, it's a treat.) I can usually mar a manicure in less than 12 seconds, because my kids have nail polish radar.

And talking on the phone. Well, those of you with children have already cringed. Answering the phone is essentially the same as flicking on that neon sign that announces "Rules Stink. Free-for-All Now in Effect!" This sign is mysteriously installed about the time when your first child learns to walk, and, like smoke alarms in airline restrooms, it cannot (to the best of my knowledge) be dismantled or removed.

I know this is a wonderful time in my life, even without all those experts reminding me. I know I can sip tea on a rocky coast when I'm 70, but I'll never again be able to watch my children take their first step, or sound out a word for the first time, or climb up onto an impossibly massive commode, unassisted and grinning. But when a friend asks, "So, what do you do for YOU?", I just have to laugh.

I step in puddles.

Susan Kawa is a wife, mother, and freelance writer. More of her essays can be read at

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