There are mermaids in my bathtub. And I really like them.
When Lydia was three years old, she started loving the Barbie mermaids. She has three such plastic mermaids, pink and purple with long flowing hair. She used to enjoy playing with her mermaids in the swimming pool or bathtub. When the kids were little, it was sometimes handier to help them bathe in our bathroom instead of going upstairs. Lydia, being the youngest probably did that the most. It was at that point that her mermaids came to live in our bathtub. I used to be frustrated about this. I wanted my adult bathroom and relaxing space without all the tear-free shampoo and toys everywhere. Nathan and I would inevitably find the mermaids with their sopping wet hair in the bottom of our tub when we were ready to use it. Since we have three kids sharing one bathroom, Lydia will sometimes still use our tub when we need to make a quick cleanliness turnaround. So we’ve kept the mermaids there for her, now on their own little shelf.
Except no one has played with them for a couple of years now. And I can’t move them. Just can’t do it.
For a while I told myself that Lydia surely still played with them when she bathed in there. Then I told myself that she might still want to play with them, so I should definitely leave them. Once I even checked the mermaids after her bath to see if they had wet hair. Because she could have secretly played with them and then put them neatly back in their spot. But the reality is that no one that lives at my house wants to play with mermaids anymore. Lydia is about to hit double digits. We have a house full of “big kids”. Our life has moved out of the mermaid phase and into a beautiful new phase that I equally love for a million reasons. But still, somehow it’s easier to just leave the mermaids where they are.
Because those mermaids remind me of some things pretty special to my heart. Of little wet-headed girls with tangles that I gently combed out. Of their playful bath times with mermaids and tea parties and giggles. The feeling I had when I wrapped my girls in a towel and dried them off as they sat in my lap. When I see those mermaids, these memories feel closer. Their growing up doesn’t feel like it’s happening quite as quickly. My once-little-kids seem not so far away from me.