Since becoming a mom, bathing has taken on a whole different meaning. It means fending off the stink with a quick washcloth wipe-down. I bathe to get the job done. I haven't fogged up the bathroom mirror in ages. No time for that. There's a little person standing at the side of the bathtub, launching her toys into the water, trying herself to dive in. I now consider a shower (one that's long enough to shave my legs) somewhat of a far-off luxury.
As an educator, I always did my best thinking in the shower. It was home to countless teaching "aha!" moments, and thus, scrapped lesson plans. It was in a hot, steamy shower that the mental fog lifted. I often thought God, why didn't I think of this sooner? The answer: I wasn't in the shower.
In the July 2008 issue of The New Yorker, Jonah Lehrer writes a fascinating article entitled, "The Eureka Hunt: Why do good ideas come to us when they do?" He says that it is common for insight to come to us in a warm, relaxing shower. (If that's really true, I'm doomed.) Lehrer believes that insights originate as a result of a flood of neural activity in the right side of the brain, and that we are best able to tap into that hemisphere when we are relaxed.
I need a shower. Maybe that's why I can't think straight, why I walk into the same room five times and can't figure out why I'm there. Although, to be honest, I'm not looking for an epiphany, just a few coherent thoughts. As a mom, it's a real challenge to find time to linger, to open ourselves up to possibility, to "aha!" moments. While I can live with a little stink, maybe I've underestimated the value of a shower. Perhaps my daughter is onto something. She's inviting me to dive in! (with her, of course.)