Privacy is a word that has no meaning in a house full of boys. Perhaps it’s just in a house full of Brandsma boys, I can’t be sure, since my husband also grew up as one of six boys. But as the only female in my house it seems I have no right to expect any. I’ve been trying to determine whether I should be flattered that they don’t feel the need to hide anything from me or whether I should be insulted that I’m treated as “one of the guys.” I admire the fact that there is not a trace of self-consciousness among the bunch. I aspire to have even a fraction of their confidence. But that being said, I truly don’t feel the need to walk down the hall with nothing but a smile.
And there are times when I’d like to get ready in the morning without my door bursting open and one or more boys traipsing in to share some tale of woe inflicted upon them by a brother or some funny story that just can’t wait. I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t care so I’ve tried subtly saying “Ahem, could you give me a sec?” The older ones clue into that one quicker and graciously offer to turn around so I can finish dressing all the while continuing to talk a mile a minute. I mean, how much more privacy could you need Mom?! The younger ones just figure mom must need a hand choosing her outfit and then freely offer observations on the differences between men and women. (Hence the reason my confidence might need a little boost once in a while.) I’ve tried the slightly less subtle approach of locking the door but after six “men” have walked headlong into it, one of which includes my husband, and after hearing for the sixth time “Ouch!!!! Why in the world is the door locked?!!!,” I’ve given up on that technique. I’m simply creating a recipe for injury. Besides, do I really want to listen to the cacophony of little fists pounding on the door, singsong voices appealing to me as they press their faces to the crack at the bottom of the door, and the jingle of a lock being picked by a resourceful nine-year-old?
And so I’ve become very good at getting ready in the morning at lightning fast speed. I listen for footsteps in the hallway telling me whether I’ve got one minute or five seconds to jump into my clothes. I’ve learned that the hotter the shower, the more steam produced and the more privacy created. I’ve taken to sneaking off in the middle of the day if I need to use the bathroom or drinking my lukewarm tea while hiding in a secluded corner. God has blessed me with five incredible boys, but sometimes I wonder at the fact that He spread them out over 13 years. There is rarely a moment in my day where I can claim to have privacy. My two-year-old crawls into my bed before the sun is up and my 15-year-old tucks me in at night as I’m down for the count before he’s even done his homework. And yet would I trade it? Not for all the tea in China! Now hand me my cold tea and a pair of ear plugs.