Doors blissfully closed, toilet breaks taken in peace, showers enjoyed in quiet solitude: all these taken-for-granted ‘you’ spaces are rapidly and irrevocably invaded by ‘them’.
The boundaryless child, whose chief aim as they grow and increase their gross and fine motor abilities is to keep you in full view and on tap at all times, cares nothing for the selfishness of time spent alone.
This process took a while to take root in our home. For her first few years of life, our daughter Amelia was very slow to crawl, to walk, to really care that much where her parents were at any given time.
She was born deaf and no-one knew this until she was two, so I guess Amelia was learning to live inside an impenetrable private space of her own. Our words could not puncture it until her hearing aids switched her on to the sounds of life and her parents reaching in to grab her.
Since this momentous time, our girl has taken great strides to bridge the gaps that existed between us. It’s hard to recollect a time before she was forever at my shoulder, by my side or in my bathroom – my constant, wonderful, infuriating companion.
Sometimes I long to just shut the door behind me as I hastily jump into the shower and not hear Amelia calling me, crashing the door open and dragging all of her ‘stuff’ in to camp out on the floor and harass me with endless questions. So many questions.
But at the same time, those questions are a daily gift, a reminder, of just how far she has come in learning to speak, to need and tell us her mind and her heart. To find her way out from dark rooms shaped by deafness and autism.
So the other day when Amelia came to me once more, in our tiny bathroom not fit for swinging cats or wide towels, and asked to join her Mum in the shower, I could hardly deny her.
I nodded my head and in a flash she ripped out her hearing aids and placed them buzzing on the vanity before piling in with me behind the shower curtain with its brightly coloured spots.
Occasionally she likes to sit at the opposite end of the bath to me, letting the water fall onto our legs as we play boats or some silly game. We like to hold our hands under the warm stream from the tap above and enjoy the sensation.
It is truthfully the most happy you will ever find me, with my daughter who dislikes being held, volunteering to lie on me and enjoying the pressure of our skin-on-skin.
She held my hands and pressed her fingers into my face and my legs. And then I started singing, this crazy, high pitched, mock-soprano warbling I have a tendency to unleash in the shower (and all around the house).
I sent a big high note out into the room and the vibration in my chest went through Amelia’s back and she paused for a moment before suddenly responding in kind. A big, atonal set of notes flew from her mouth and into the air, soaring high to meet mine as they fell.
And we didn’t stop for anything. My beautiful girl, who without aids cannot hear more than fragments of the sound produced from my mouth, was feeling it now through my body and we were locked in a double act for the ages.
My singing was echoed in hers, as was my joy reflected in her beaming expression. Not until my husband was roused from another part of the house and came to see what his mad women of the shower were up to did we break from our performance.
I may not have any privacy to speak of and there are no doors that stay closed for long in my house, but happily other obstacles continue to shift and open just a little. Just enough to let me hold my sweetheart for five full minutes and reach her through my body and the power of song.