So your bathroom smells like pee…

Some people offer slippers or nice, cushy socks to guests who enter their homes. The floors stay pristine in their unscuffed beauty, and the guests are comfy.

Well, it’s way too late for our floors. That ship sailed a decade ago, and these days we regularly beg our guests to remain shod. There are two things that are unknowable: 1) the day and time that Jesus will return to take us to Glory, and 2) the mysterious ways of the omnipresent goo and gunk into which you will certainly step at my house. For Heaven’s sake, people, keep your shoes on.

But filthy floors don’t mean I should relinquish my hostess duties entirely, and the tremendous lowering of my standards doesn’t mean I can’t try to accommodate my guests in new and meaningful ways. And that’s why I’ve decided, rather than a Longaberger basket of funky, fun, fuzzy socks, I will heretofore keep a giant tub of Vicks VapoRub at my front door and offer an undernose schmear to any brave enough to enter.

The truth is, I can clean my house by shoving things in closets and cupboards like the best of ’em. I can pull off parties and events, and only the people who come over very regularly know to comment on the difference between my Usual Housekeeping and my Presentable Housekeeping. Only my family, for example, watched me move my couch last Thanksgiving to make way for the Thanksgiving Table and scrape lakes of petrified milk from our cheapest of the cheap Ikea laminate floors.

My fake-it method of housekeeping, though, loses steam when it comes to the bathrooms.

THE BATHROOMS, you guys. The bathrooms which we let our boys use, and which I suspect will someday require a thorough gutting down to and beyond the subfloor in order to eliminate the persistent smell of pee. And I’ve tried – I’ve tried – to stuff the urine smell into closets and cupboards along with all the other superfluous clutter, but it refuses to be stuffed and lets itself out from its prison to run roughshod over my guests.

I’ve Febreezed.

I’ve lit smelly candles that give people blinding headaches.

I’ve shut the door and prayed this prayer,

Dear Jesus,

Let no one need to use my potty.

Amen

But Jesus is funny about the prayers he answers in the affirmative and the ones he doesn’t.  And Jesus remains very stubborn about acting like the magic wand I think he should be.

So my bathrooms are consistently hideous and terrifying, and I’m consistently embarrassed that I can’t completely cover up the smell.

I came home from camp on Saturday, and the house was clean. The clutter was picked up. The dishes were done.

It was almost bliss.

Except for the bathrooms.

Of course.

Because they’re a force of nature.

Even the upstairs bathroom. The one that’s out of the way. The one that’s seldom used but manages to smell like old pee anyway because that’s the popular thing for bathrooms in our house to do, and, I swear, if the downstairs bathroom jumped off a bridge, then the upstairs bathroom would jump, too.

Except this time, the upstairs bathroom smelled even worse than old pee.

It smelled like the Old Pee invited his friends over for a party after which they all vomited, passed out, died, and left their rotten pee corpses behind for giggles.

And that’s when Greg discovered it.

The Ocean of Urine.

In the bathtub.

With a washcloth blocking the drain.

Because someone, or as I like to call them, someones, thought it would be a super fun game to see how high, over days and days and with a cleverly blocked drain, they could fill a bathtub with pee.

The answer, for those of you keeping track at home, is about 1/8″.

Yep.

About an eighth of an inch of urine at the high spot, accounting for the crusty, ring-around-the-tub evaporation effect.

I tell you this story because I love you, friends.

I love you. I do.

And I know that we mamas sometimes hang our heads, shame-faced, over our housekeeping shortcomings.

We blame ourselves for shoving clutter into closets and faking clean houses.

We pray that no one will need to use our potties.

And we apologize, apologize, apologize for our imperfections, unconsciously raising the bar of comparison higher and higher.

But I am here to tell you, friends, if your bathroom smells like perpetual pee, you are not alone.

And if you lack a Pee Ocean in your tub, you are, in fact, ahead of the game. You should sit straighter, mama, and hold your head high and banish shame.

And me, too.

Me, too, even with my anointed tub. I will also banish shame to the same place my pride and my dignity went – never to be seen or heard from again – ’cause who needs ’em?

As for me and my house, we will pray to Jesus. And arm ourselves with Lysol. And burn our tubs to the ground. (Or at least douse them in enough chemicals to ruin the local water supply for the next 20 years.) And offer our guests generous schmears of VapoRub for their upper lips. Because I will do what I can do, and I will release what I can’t do, and I will  live life love-loving my little pee-ers.

The End

Except, thank you, Greg, for taking on the Ocean. You really took one for the team. True truth: men who clean up oceans of pee are sexy, sexy beasts. (x’s and o’s, baby. x’s and o’s.)

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
124 comments
  1. Yup! said the mom of six boys. I can relate.

  2. […] is, a few months ago, things were hard at our house. They’ve been hard before — we don’t live an uncomplicated life, after all, what with the five children and myriad special needs and we parents who are stunningly […]

  3. […] opening paragraph. I do, actually, have time to write one thing that may be helpful. My bathroom, as you may know, smells boy humans use it. This week, I tried to mask the smell with a mulberry candle, and it […]

  4. […] one kid is graduating high school Saturday, so we are preparing to Fake Having a Clean House for the party. The struggle is […]

  5. I never much appreciated how disgusting we guys make the bathroom floor until I had my son. I didn’t think it was possible to get so much pee on the floor. The smell of a pee soaked floor is not something I want to deal with, so I’ve made it a habit to clean the floor around the toilet daily.

  6. I would love to introduce you to Norwex!

  7. I have one son and one daughter, in that order. They are now married adults with children of their own. My son, twin boys. My daughter, two girls. I love my children and my grandchildren, however, some of my children’s actions have in fact, come back to haunt them. I gave birth to my daughter exactly two years and one day after my son was born. When I got my new baby girl home, I spent one, and only one week with a sweet little bottom in diapers, and what seemed at the time, the rear end of a truck in much bigger diapers. My son was simple. One day, a big cup continually filled with water for him to drink, and a big bag of M&M’s… oh, and a roll of toilet paper. The step stool was a magnificent idea proposed by my husband. So, son drinks water and has to pee. One square of toilet paper goes into the toilet. Son mounts step stool, and I say, “aim for the square!” He hits the square, washes his hands and receives 3 M&M’s. We spent 8 hours in that bathroom, and after that, I never had a problem with my son.
    My daughter on the other hand, was my challenge. It quite literally took me a year to potty train her. You see, she was stubborn. And a procrastinator. And at the very last moment would firmly announce “potty”! Then before even lifting a foot to move, began to pee. This fun was not limited to our home. Taking this child to the grocery store was the best. Nothing to drink all morning, yet, upon filling my buggy with a store full of groceries we would get into line, a cart in front of me, a cart behind me, and my daughter, on cue, would say that magic word… The cashiers hated me, and I spent a fortune re-purchasing everything that was now soggy and wet with pee.
    My son’s twins are new, so we’ll see how that works at a future date. My daughter’s 3 year old has not “christened” a grocery cart, but she has been as stubborn as her mother… the younger one has just turned two.

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