I’ll Be in the Tub


The only thing separating me from the chaos of the day was a thin, wrinkled piece of white cotton hanging dutifully from the shower bar.

Spilled (purple) grape juice. Math problems no one in the house could solve. The noise of the theme song from that annoying show that seemed to be on repeat. It was all just too much. I knew there were at least two hours remaining of homework, pseudo-counseling sessions, emails still pinging from my work devices, and the general drama that comes from four distinct lives coming together at the end of a long and stressful day.

Sometimes you just have to walk away.

And if you are anything like me, there’s only one safe place to go in these dire situations: the bathtub. Filling the tub with near-scalding water and adding a bit of lavender scented oil is sometimes the only way to hit the reset button.

I come from a long line of bathing beauties, so perhaps it was learned behavior. I could not fall asleep at night as a child without the sound of my mom drawing her own bath water, and letting out a long sigh of relief after tucking me in. And before self care was even a thing, my grandmother’s bathroom cabinet full of Crabtree and Evelyn was unrivaled.

My sister ended up with the bath bug too. When we were kids and would return home from the swimming pool – shivering as the AC washed over us – and would race to the one bathtub in the house, wet towels left in our wake, calling “FIRRRRRST!” in our own version of bathtub shotgun. Her poor fingers were slammed in the door more times that I can count. I was older and faster, and therefore luxuriated in the well-won victory by hogging all the hot water like any normal big sister would do.

To this day I can’t finish an episode of House Hunters when the couple chooses the completely renovated home with a dual-head shower the size of Kansas with no bathtub. Who are these people? Heck, I have even lined a subpar hotel bathtub with a towel just so I could end my day with a bath without actually making contact with the offensive tub itself.

Now that I’m a mom, I know that sometimes the only way to separate my girls from their own struggles – and each other – is a nice warm bath. Bad grade? Go take a bath. Friend drama? Go take a bath. Need a homework break? Go take a bath. Lost the match? Go take a bath. They’ve heard me say it a million times but it actually works. Like me, they emerge soothed, renewed, and most of the time, not complaining about the thing that sent them to the water in the first place. 

Even though we invested in that tankless hot water heater and my girls do not have to endure the door-slamming and bathtub jockeying that my sister and I did in our younger days, they are indeed still sisters and will always find something to fight over.

It’s okay. Let them fight. I’ll be in the tub.

How do you unwind after a long day?

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Kelly Barbrey is an early riser, old soul and retail therapy expert. She is a wife to Jonathan and a mom to two strong-willed daughters, born in 2007 and 2010. Kelly grew up in Atlanta, GA and earned a degree in magazine journalism from The University of Georgia. She has worked full time in tourism marketing for Experience Columbia SC since 2004, where she loves to share all the exciting things happening in Columbia, SC with potential travelers. When she’s not working or wrangling kids, she enjoys date nights with her husband at local restaurants, exercise, reading and sharing real and humorous accounts of life, motherhood and nostalgia on her blog, Up Early + Often.


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