Always Real, Makes Me Sigh

The Laundry Sink

I was standing at my laundry sink the other day cleaning mud off of Sean’s shoes when AD came in and asked me what I was doing. We stood there and chatted for a few minutes as I scrubbed.

He remarked that he couldn’t remember the last time we bathed Sean in the laundry sink.  I stopped to think for a minute and I couldn’t remember either.  The season of laundry sink baths had quietly slipped away and we didn’t even notice.

When I brought Sean home from the hospital he weighed four pounds and I was, for the most part, terrified of him.  He was just so little and scrawny and I didn’t seem to have any natural mothering instincts the first few weeks.

One of the scariest things to me as a new mother, other than trimming those itty bitty fingernails, was bathing him.  I couldn’t find any place in our house conducive to bathing a little four pound humanoid.

Leaning over the bathtub just didn’t work for me. For one thing I had this incision across my belly and even after that healed it hurt my back and knees to lean over the tub. It was just an uncomfortably awkward position that seemed to fight against my center of gravity and made bath time joyless.

I tried using the little baby bathtub on the kitchen counter and even on the vanity in my bathroom, but our counters are extra tall and I’m not extra tall.  When you add the height of the baby tub and a slippery wet baby, it just felt terrifyingly precarious — not at all relaxing and serene as they show in the Johnson & Johnson ads.  There wasn’t enough room for the towels and soaps and I was always bumping something off or having to stretch to reach what I needed while keeping one hand on a squirmy wet baby while water sloshed down the front of me and the cabinets.  It made me cry big fat “I can’t do this mommy thing” tears.

Eventually I figured out that I could set the little baby bathtub into the sink in our laundry room.   Of course, a woman bathing her baby in the laundry sink wasn’t going to make the cover of Greatest Parents Ever magazine, but it was great for my height and I could put all the stuff I needed on the washer which was right at arms length.  Once I figured that out, we bathed him in the laundry sink all the time and bathing my baby became one of the sweetest tasks of the day for all parties concerned.

It wasn’t long before we were bathing him in the laundry sink without the baby bathtub and then it seems that I blinked and he was sitting up by himself in the sink and then I blinked again and he was scaling the cabinet and climbing in all by himself.

And just like a baby in the womb, he grew and grew and grew until his long legs were all tucked up under his chin when he sat in the sink.  And I guess, being the astute parents that we are, we did sort of notice every once in a while that he was getting kind of big for the laundry sink.  But mostly we saw not the long and lanky legs of a growing boy, but our baby.

Somewhere along the way last summer he started occasionally bathing in the tub in his bathroom.  But then at some point unmarked by fanfare, it became always the tub and never the laundry sink.  And now, as I stood there scrubbing mud off his tennis shoes, I couldn’t remember the last time we bathed him in the laundry sink.

That’s the thing with these non-Hallmark moments and milestones of childhood, there is no cake or cards to mark the occasion when something ends.  Unlike the beginnings, you only notice that you’ve moved beyond the milestone long after the fact.

The days of babyhood blend quietly and seamlessly into childhood in weeks and months, one season folding imperceptibly into the next.  It gives me a bit of heartburn to understand that the only way to see that is from a distance.

The season of laundry sink baths had quietly slipped away and we didn’t notice.

We didn’t even notice.

Or I would have baked a cake.

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64 thoughts on “The Laundry Sink

  1. Awww… so true! I used to bathe my newborn on a folded up beach towel on the bathroom counter. It would be soaked at the end and I would just wash and dry it and I was ready for the next time. But we eventually had to break out the baby bathtub. : )

    I just finished deep cleaning my girl’s bathroom counters this morning and had to move acne treatments and hair stuff and the flat iron and… time goes by quickly!

    *sniff sniff*

  2. Adorable picture. I was bummed when I had to stop bathing my girlie in the kitchen sink. All too soon, not because of size (she could probably STILL fit, skinny thang, at 4 years old), but because she started trying to grab everything around the sink.

    I’m still freaked that last month, her reach for the garage-door-button was at least an inch short, and now she can hit it. That’s waaay too fast!

  3. You’ve got the picture and now you’ve got this beautiful word picture–memories to warm your heart later!

    Thanks for sharing the memory with us.

  4. Would you believe that I STILL feel completely inept when it comes to bathing the humanoid infants? Yes, even with #12 I am ALL THUMBS. It’s nervewracking. However, I do agree that the kitchen sink is the best place for the job.

    And what an interesting thought…that we don’t mark the endings of things. We say “he started walking” and not “he stopped crawling”…etc…

    Thank you once again for your perspective, AM, and for the smile at that sweet picture!

  5. Seriously. One of your giveaways should be put on by Kleenex. Or maybe we should just remember to have them at hand before we go to your page. Quicksilver has nothing on childhood…sigh..

  6. Isn’t that so true… time just slips away. Have you read Let Me Hold You Longer by Karen Kingsbury? This post made me think of that book.

  7. Wow — my thoughts exactly. Except I didn’t know it until I read this post. Thank you for giving me the words to explain how I feel as I’m watching my baby slip away.

  8. Aww, AM, you do have a way of tugging the heart strings each time, don’t you???? Sadly, so many things sort of fade away like this….much more reason to celebrate the small things…everyday!! I agree, go back a cake!!! But no need to put it in the bathtub….just enjoy!



    Pehaps celebrate with a special cake — of soap! ~ AM

  9. Beautifully written! There are so many of those cake worthy moments that just slip by unnoticed. It always makes me a little sad when I realize that they have passed.

  10. OH, AM. There are so many unmarked losses. I’m finding them more and more often as the years pass. The biggest, and most painful loss for me lately is that I can’t remember the last time my 12 1/2-year-old son offered me an unsolicited hug. Ouch, that one stings.
    I’m not giving up on him, though. Not ever.

  11. Sean was Tiny! My almost 10 pounder was a lot easier to grab ahold of. My mother shared your fear of bathing a baby. Grandma use to come over and do it. I enjoyed it but I was Antique myself and had handled a lot of siblings before then.

    By Fall it will probably be showing by hisself. At first mine cried and screamed but then you couldn’t get him a tub. If he needs a tub it’d better be a swimming pool!

  12. You have such a wonderful way of evoking memories in all of us. I am looking at our kitchen table, remembering the night the baby bath toppled and flooded the kitchen floor….fortunately after the baby had been removed!

  13. We did the same thing-the utility sink is just perfect!

    I just realized the other day that I don’t burp our baby anymmore and he doesn’t spit up either and I don’t remember the last time he did (he’s 10 mo).

  14. My daughter said her first word in a sink bath. I was blowing bubbles with on of those little dollar store bubble blowers and she said “bubble”. It is a memory that I hope and pray that I will never forget. I tell her that story every time she wants to hear about when she was a baby in hopes that she will remember it when I am too old to.

  15. This is so true. In fact, I often find myself wishing away certain stages only to wonder later when they ended and becoming melancholy about it.

    There is a children’s book, “Let Me Hold You Longer” that talks about all the last moments that we never notice.

    My kids like for me to read it to them, but I think it is actually because they get to watch their mom start doing the ugly cry.

  16. Awwww…we’ve always bathed Z in our bathtub, but we used to get in with him & hold him in the warm water…oh, it was so precious. Then he got to where he sat up in a bath seat, and now he sits in there on his own! 🙂

  17. “…one season folding IMPERCEPTIBLY into the next…”
    I love your choice of words.
    My 14 month old son got to sit with his big sister and cousins today at the Subway booth without a highchair OR booster. He was so proud. And so, “….one season [is] folding imperceptibly into the next….”
    Thank you for your timely thoughts.

  18. I must stop reading you at work as people are always wondering why I’m sitting here crying. My son is 3 1/2 and he’s such a little man now but I do remember those days when he was so tiny.

  19. oh so sweet . . . i want to snatch up moments like that, each and every day. our little man is getting so big (15 months) and its a wonder to watch him grow. while i love the boy he’s becoming, i miss the baby he used to be.

  20. What an awesome post! We’re in that season too, where the baby things just fall to thwayside and we’re so busy trying to keep up with it all that much of it goes unnoticed.

    I used to take baths in the sink…no particular reason asn I was long past the age where it was appropriate or necessary. One of the funniest pix my parents have of me is me squeezed into the sink taking a bath. I think I’m 5.

    LOVE your laundry sink too, BTW! I wish my laundry room was large enough to accomodate one.

  21. Ahhh. I remember thinking I wish I had known the last time I would be reading “Good Night Moon” to my kids. Now I’m closer to reading it to future grandchildren. You’re right: we can only mark the milestones by looking back. Slipping through my fingers….

  22. We were kitchen sink bath-givers – ours is extra wide, I think. It makes them laugh every time I tell them, especially if I show them the picture! Thanx for reminding me of those days of DH’s ingenious rigging of a “shower” with hardware parts when we moved to the baby bath…oh, precious memories are the best!

  23. We had a similar thought this week in church. We heard a newborn cry and when we got home both remarked about how our little guy (6 months) doesn’t cry like that anymore. We never really realized his cry had ‘grown up’, but the proof was in the newborn 2 pews behind us. We love watching him grow and change and find his voice (sometimes very loudly), but it is hard to let the baby stuff go! How could we already have packed up two sets of clothing, his bouncy, his co-sleeper? How could my baby be slipping into a toddler?

    Love your writing. Hope Sean like The Jolly Lumberjack Polka video!


  24. Sweet picture of your sweet baby! I couldn’t help but wonder if those were real bubbles or had been added w/ Photoshop.

    When mine were little, I closed the bathroom door and put the baby bathtub on the floor in there. It always freezes me when someone opens the door when I’m bathing or still wet, so I figured babies get cold from a draft when they’re in the kitchen sink.

    What I learned from watching the old home videos is that I should not have been so particular with our 2-yr-old who was trying to help give her baby brother a bath. Of course, I had to take her in there with me so I could see what she was doing during that time, but believe me, I should have relaxed and made it a lot more fun for her instead of acting like she might hurt him!

    You over-estimate my Photoshop abilities and/or time to Photoshop. We were blowing bubbles to amuse him. ~AM

  25. I always enjoy your site so much. It helps me keep perspective on the quickly passing time. I laugh out loud here and I really need that. Thank you.

  26. LOVE that picture of little Sean. Sweet memories!

    I know it isn’t nearly the same thing, I related to your comments about how hard it was to bathe him the bathtub. I bath my “baby” in the “big side” of the kitchen sink for the same reasons. And by “baby,” I mean my little 4 1/2 pound Yorkie.


    Yup. Before we lost our doggie baby, four years ago, we bathed her in the laundry sink too. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out we could bathe our human baby there too.

    If you are a dog lover, you can read about Cooper Ann here:

    Might need a Kleenex….

    Another great post, AM!

  27. Awwwww, what precious memories!! Your picture makes my heart feel like it will burst!

    You know when I notice that time has some how fast-forwarded? When I look at my boys in their pj’s and suddenly their jammies are 6 inches too short? When did that happen? When did their legs grown that long? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we had to roll their pj pants up at the waist to keep them from dragging the ground?!

  28. Awwww. You are so good at telling stories!!

    Have you told the story of how you had Sean and came home with him? I don’t remember, but if you haven’t, I’m suuuuure it’s a great story!!!!

    I’ve written around it, if not about it. Here are a couple of entries:

    “Fragile No More”


    “Here’s Your Baby Ma’am. Welcome to Adulthood”

  29. “…you only notice that you’ve moved beyond the milestone long after the fact…..the only way to see that is from a distance.” So much wisdom from one so petite as yourself. Thank you for the beautiful thoughts, though I am now melancholy.

  30. Bake a cake now. You never know when you’re going to hit a last.

    For all my babies I realized the point that was my last nursing session and the last time I would pull them out of a crib.

    You’ve reminded me of a blog post I’ve wanted to write for a while now. The last time I used a newborn sized diaper on my last baby.

    We don’t always know when we’re going to hit a “last” like we know when we hit a first. Bake a cake just in case you’re hitting one today!

  31. My granddaughter is 2 1/2 and we bathed her in the kitchen sink when she was a baby. Her daddy told her about it the other day and she thought that was the funniest thing. Wish I had taken a picture so we could show her. I’m still not sure she believes that she actually took a bath there. 🙂

  32. Thanks for the memory jolt! My 5 year old used the laundy sink too. He still loves baths but is now transitioning to showers (I’m a BIG boy now…) I think I’d better get the cake batter ready! *smiles*

  33. That laundry sink looks a lot nicer than mine! Where I don’t think anyone would use it for a baby’s bath!!!!!

    Where do the minutes go—-next think you know he’s going off to college……..

  34. My son turned three a few weeks ago. On the night before his birthday, I wrote about putting my two year old to bed for the very last time, because the next day, he would be a three year old. I’m kind of glad now that I caught and acknowledged one of the ‘lasts’.

    Today he moved up to the 3 year old room at his daycare center. I thought his 2 year old teacher was going to cry; she thought she had till Monday, but he was invited to join “the big kids” down the hall, and off he ran. I almost cried too, because he was so eager to be doing exactly what he was supposed to do, growing and learning and moving towards independence, that he very nearly forgot to give –me– a kiss goodbye. As he dug into the box of tracks and trains, I tried to get his attention, but he was too wrapped up in the novelty of new toys. I kissed him on the head and started to walk away. Then I heard “Mommy!” He came flying to me. “You forgot my kiss!” he said. I kissed him and squeezed him tight, and sent him off to find another piece of his future.

  35. I JUST scrap booked a page about this very thing yesterday. I took a picture of a bouquet of wild flowers my 15 yr.old son picked and brought to me…..trying to “catch” that last time he might do that…..sooo true, start watching, you will catch some stuff..
    Mr. 15 is now 16 and got his permit this morning:)

  36. Oh my, that is so true. I was determined to not let one moment sneak past me. And really, I think I did pretty well. Except, when did my sweet baby become this little imp that is now two? I miss the baby, but the imp is so much fun.

    Thanks for the memories!


  37. This brings back bittersweet memories…I bathed all my children in the kitchen sink in a baby tub. I still love the smell of baby shampoo and lotion.

    With my first born, my mom stayed with me 2 weeks and she bathed her in the sink. I “helped”. When she left, and I am almost embarrassed to say this, I did not bath the child for 3 days – I was so scared of her. I just wiped her off with a washcloth. LOL Oh! the memories. She is 17 now and takes my razors. *sigh*

  38. I remember when the bathtub seemed so huge for my little baby that I put a small inflatable pool inside the tub for him to bathe in, with me in vigilent attendance of course. What fun all that was… He’s still fun at 12yrs old but it’s different fun.

  39. AD has memories. I love that he thinks out loud.
    My dear husband gave our second son his first full water bath. I wanted to give him that memory! He(both daddy and son) did great! I gave our first born his first full water bath and loved it, while my mother was a bit perplexed at my ease with me giving my baby boy his first bath, she ask me if my knees were weak, I learned she was scared to give me my first bath.
    OH she cleaned my brothers shoes all the time but made me clean my shoes. Well daddy(my husband) taught his sons to clean and polish their shoes and keep their finger nails clean.
    Oh how I ramble.Anyway!
    Patty Cake, Patty Cake, Bake a cake, bake me a cake as fast as you can!! Roll it and pat it and mark it with a B and put it in the oven for baby and me!Well thats close.
    “From a Distance” isn’t that a Bette Midler song??
    I listen to the song “Time in a Bottle” knowing saving time is impossible, make way for the future.
    Hope you day is joyfull!

  40. With 52 comments here so far, I haven’t taken the time to see if anyon else mentioned this, but…Your post immediately reminded me of a child’s book by Karen Kingsbury, “Let Me Hold You Longer.” The book is about exactly what you’re expressing here – celebrating the “lasts.” For moms who might want to check it out:

    Being aware enough to notice the “lasts” is a precious gift.

  41. Those precious moments do tend to slip away from our minds, but not our hearts. I had forgotten most of my childrens’ moments, but did remember to tell my firtborn grandson that I would never know when the last time came for him to sit on my lap in Grampa’s big leather chair. We had such wonderul times together, really better than with my own kids, because I was so caught up in the responsibility of my own. So, one day, Steven plopped down on my lap and said, “This is it,Grandma… I won’t be doing this anymore”….. he was sixteen. He is in his second year at U.of Penn Law School and my mind still has great memories, as well as my heart.

  42. Sweet memories. Funny how tiny things seem to impact you forever, esp. those dealing with the kids growing up WAY TOO FAST!

  43. Oh, AM, I have been offline for a while and this was a lovely post to come back to. Mothers of babies in sinks unite!

    Now, go and make that cake. It is good to celebrate the tiny imperceptible things too. Yesterday we invited Sharon and Mikey over and made strawberry crepes and nutella crepes just because it had been a long hard week and we all needed a pat on the back for being awesome.

  44. Awww….I love how you always get that the seemingly “little” things really are the most important things. You’ve nailed it this time, too. I think someone in another comment mentioned the children’s book about this very topic. I can’t remember the name/author, but it is told from a mother’s perpsective. If we knew it was their last time riding a tricycle, last time at bat in T-ball, last time of saying a cute word….then saying it correctly forever, etc……she would have paid closer attention, celebrated, caught it on film, etc.

    My children are ages, 27, 25, and 16….and I still remember…VERY CLEARLY….how each of them said certain words. Some of the words, I still haven’t outgrown 🙂

    Thanks for taking me along with you for one of your sweet memories.

  45. Isn’t that just heartbreaking when they outgrow something like that and you don’t even notice??? I have done that, as well, and the sting is almost unbearable.

    I remember, a year or so ago, realizing I was no longer was rocking my kids (now 9 & 13) and singing to them anymore… that I hadn’t realized The Last Time was actually The Last Time. It just disappeared into a memory without my even knowing it had.

    So, yes, you guessed it — this sick mommy made both the (now) big kids climb into my lap so I could sing to them again. While crying, of course.

    Thank goodness for therapy (and extremely affectionate, understanding kids).

  46. That reminded me of this book by Karen Kingsbury called, “Let me Hold you Longer.” It’s about all the “lasts” that our kids do, and we never know it is the last. It is a children’s book, but that is totally a joke to me because I could never read it out loud. I try valiantly to get past the first page without my voice cracking, but pretty soon it’s real tears and unpleasant snot, and that just does not make for good bedtime memories. It is still a great book.

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