When one thinks of a sacred space, the bathroom sink isn’t generally a place that comes to mind. No hymns are sung at the wash basin. Your hand towels are no ceremonial garb. It is not these things which make a space sacred, though. What makes a space sacred is what it stands for, or what happens there. With this in mind, my bathroom sink became a sacred space last night, and I’ll tell you why.
I’ve been a step-mom for almost 8 years. My oldest son had just turned 5 years old when I began dating his father. He will be 13 this spring. Time flies when you’re having fun. I won’t get into the history of his biological parents, because it’s a turbulent story and frankly, not mine to tell. I will say, however, that I like to call him The Boy Who Made Me Real, because he changed the trajectory of my life by being a part of it.
I’ve said before on this blog that I never thought much about motherhood, but when I met my husband and fell madly in love somewhere around the first 90 seconds, I had to think about motherhood, because this wonderful man was a package deal. He came with a son.
I did not take this circumstance lightly, and spent a great deal of time thinking about what it would mean if I chose to date this man, and even more about what it would mean if we were to marry. The decision I came to is obvious, but what may not be is the way that it changed me. I’m afraid my oldest son felt the turbulence of those changes, as I fumbled my way through transforming from an independent city girl in her early twenties, to somebody’s stepmother in her early twenties. The transition was not a smooth one, but we made it.
Our relationship is unique. He is my step-son, and occasionally that distinction is something I can perceive, but most of the time, he feels like mine. He feels like mine at random moments. When I am doctoring a scratch. When I used to pack his lunches. When I taught him how to pack his own lunch. When I taught him how to do laundry, or to dust. When I attend a parent-teacher conference. When I bake pie because he didn’t make the school basketball team. We have an odd sort of relationship. A blend between mother and step-mother, punctuated by these special moments.
Last night we shared another of these Mother moments, when I taught him how to wash his face. Not a quick splash of water, but a proper – Cetaphil and circular motions, focus on the T-zone- face washing. He is nearly 13, and his skin has begun to show it. It was time to teach him how to care for his teenage skin, and I gladly stepped in to do so.
This young man is a visual learner. He learns best by seeing something done. That in mind, I decided the best way to teach him how to wash his face was to simply wash mine alongside him. So, yesterday evening, while my husband was at band practice and my youngest son was playing in the living room, I could be found standing at a double sink next to an almost 13 year old, who is nearly as tall as I am, explaining about T-zones and the importance of properly washing your skin at night. For him, this was probably just another Tuesday. But, for me, it was a chance to feel like Mom.
Together, we put our hands into the warm water and dampened our faces. We each took a bit of Cetaphil and, after rubbing our hands together and paying close attention to our T-zones, used small circular movements to wash our faces. For a brief moment, we shared a symbolic acknowledgment of the dwindling pre-teen days before us, not just as teacher and pupil, but as mother and son.
All made possible by the sacred bathroom sink.