My Bathroom Belongs at a Rest Stop

by Brooke Bernard on February 8, 2012

My husband and I are fairly quiet people. Pre-kids it was never very loud in our house – no sports blaring from televisions no one was watching, no music audible from every room in the house. We’re also fairly neat people. And clean. Fingerprints on my black countertops do actually make my eyebrow twitch. Uptight you might be thinking. Maybe, but I’m good with that. I enjoy peace and quiet and cleanliness.

If you’re thinking I’m going to say having kids destroyed all that, you’re only sort of right. While we have been forced to relax and often stare at piles of laundry folded but not yet put away, it turns out we breed fairly quiet and neat children. Score! When our kids are in crowded places, they never cease to comment on the decibel level. When we go to homes where the families are, um, more boisterous, they aren’t quite sure what to do with themselves for the first little while. (Don’t worry; they catch on quickly. Acting like maniacs is easy for them.)

My kids’ comparatively quiet and semi-tidy character traits fail to follow them to just one place on this planet:  The Bathroom. Can anyone tell me what has become of my downstairs bathroom? Just a few short years ago, it was a freshly painted and freshly scented sanctuary where guests could go to freshen up. Fresh is clearly the key modifier here.

Today, five years and two kids later, it needs a Flying J Travel Center sign on its door. Sordid is my new adjective of choice. Enter at your own risk. No one knows the last time the toilet was flushed. After all, if none of the pee actually lands in the toilet, why bother flushing?

My bathroom walls and the back of the door are coated from left to right and top to bottom in drip marks from God-knows-what. I actually think it is hand sanitizer; at least, that’s what I’m telling myself so feel free to keep other theories to yourself. FYI, that stuff doesn’t wipe off of Sherwin Williams. How did they get it on every inch of the wall? Did my son have a hand sanitizer fight with the kid in the mirror? Another of life’s great mysteries I suppose.

More organic soap has dripped out of the pumper and onto the sink than any child has ever actually used to wash himself, creating a cesspool of green, mucky mess. I have to carefully pry the soap bottle off the sink ledge in order to wipe underneath it. There is a twisted irony in a mother’s attempt to clean soap off of a surface. As it becomes a bubbly white mess while I scrub, I can’t help but ask the Clorox wipe and myself why we’re even wasting our time. The soap will ooze from the bottle again within the hour.

As for the discoloration around the drain in the sink, those strange spots on the hardwoods and whatever is growing in the trashcan, well, those mysteries will have to be solved another day. For now, I’ll have to look on the bright side:  When our family is traveling, we’ll feel right at home inside those filthy roadside rest stops.

Brooke Bernard, freelance editor and mother of two, wonders how crazy she would seem if she started shouting the same things in her home bathroom that she shouts inside rest area bathrooms: “Don’t touch anything! Stand here. Don’t move. You don’t want to get sick! I don’t know what that smell is. Just hurry up!”

Follow Brooke on Twitter @BrookeBBlogs

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura H. February 8, 2012 at 6:56 am

yep. we are right there with ya…my 2 oldest boys (well, “old” is relative; they were 4 and 2) once locked themselves in our downstairs bathroom and attempted to flush anything they could find, including a book, a candle and a bar of soap (in addition to the roll of toilet paper–as in, the entire roll, still ON the roll). and this was with a sitter who didn’t know how to get the door unlocked. flooded bathroom, ruined hardwoods, disgusting nightmare. and i was 36 wks pregnant at the time. the bathroom’s never been the same. hilarious blog, brooke!!


BrookeB February 8, 2012 at 9:47 am

Wow. Your story makes me need a drink!! 🙂


Jamie February 8, 2012 at 7:42 am

Yep, I completely agree. Hang the towel up? Why bother? The floor seems like a much more appropriate place for it, according to my kids. As for the stuff coating the inside of the door, not sure how that even gets there since they are supposed to have washed their hands BEFORE leaving the bathroom. Oh, there are so many more questions I have about the spots/guck/items I find in the bathroom. However, sometimes it’s just better left unkown. Hysterical blog.


BrookeB February 8, 2012 at 9:46 am

How could I have forgotten the towel? No one in their right mind would use the towel in our bathroom. It’s got to be more disgusting than just not washing your hands at all. And I do NOT understand how that’s possible since my son emerges from the bathroom with his hands SOAKING wet every. single. time. “Why aren’t your hands dry AGAIN?”


MK February 8, 2012 at 7:47 am

My 4-year-old can see the TV from our powder room. This does nothing to help his already inconsistent aim.


BrookeB February 8, 2012 at 9:44 am

Ouch. My son cannot talk and pee at the same time. Not even close!


Julie February 8, 2012 at 8:04 am

You just described our downstairs bathroom to a “T” right down to the white bubbly mess that occurs when you try to wipe soap with a clorox wipe. When you figure out how to get those drip marks off your wall, fill me in! Great blog Brooke!


BrookeB February 8, 2012 at 9:42 am

I’m afraid the only way the drip marks are going away is with another coat of paint. And when would be a good time to invest in that — about 15 years from now, I think!


Allison February 8, 2012 at 8:39 am

Hilarious, Brooke. And hits way too close to home. (Except for the being-obsessively-neat-pre-kids part. Ha!) I’ve often thought having boys using the potty means the best I can shoot for is a not-disgusting-sometimes bathroom situation. No wonder I’m not so keen on potty training my second son. For now, I’ll spend less time changing his diapers as I would cleaning up his potty messes.


BrookeB February 8, 2012 at 9:44 am

There is seriously A LOT to be said for keeping kids in diapers. A LOT. And I’ve also decided there’s just no point in trying for any semblance of cleanliness unless company is coming. I have actually banned my son from our downstairs bathroom for several hours before guests show up. “Don’t go NEAR that bathroom!”


SH February 8, 2012 at 9:02 am

Yup – I fear potty training our boys…eeeewwww!


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