According to The United States Census Bureau, almost 33% of homes that were built in 2019 were built with three or more bathrooms. My husband and I have nowhere close to that amount in our 1950s ranch house–we have only one and a half bathrooms. In June we began to remodel the half bathroom ourselves. If you have only one and a half bathrooms to start with, losing a half bathroom is significant. Add in that our two-and-half-year old daughter was starting potty training, and we had a very interesting couple of months. (Yes, that is how long it took us to remove all tile, retile the floor and walls, install a floating vanity, redo our plumbing and install a fan.) We had been dreading temporarily losing the bathroom, but at the end of the renovation, I found that I missed the intimacy of the three of us sharing a bathroom.
Before you think I am crazy, let me ask you the following questions: How many of you grew up sharing a bathroom with your siblings or parents? How many of you remember banging on the door to be let in to get ready for school? Or yelling at a sibling because he/she was taking too long in the shower, and you knew there wouldn’t be enough hot water for you? I can recall all of these things happening at my house. I remember brushing my teeth while trying to avoid my mom’s plugged-in curling iron. I remember talking with my younger brother as he stood at one sink, and I stood at the other before we both went downstairs for a quick breakfast. I recall how we had to talk the night before about our showers for the next morning so there was not a “traffic jam.” There is a certain intimacy to sharing a bathroom. A tug and push of power. A claiming of territory. A gathering of sleepy individuals just trying to make it to school or work on time.
Nowadays, it is completely normal for the grownups to have their own bathroom and the children to have one for themselves or for each child to have his/her own bathroom. An article in The Atlantic reports on this bathroom trend and how The United States has gone from two people per bathroom to only one person per bathroom. People are missing out, though, if they never have to share a bathroom. Certain conversations are best had while brushing teeth, applying makeup, or shaving. Moods can be read while styling hair or applying zit cream in the bathroom mirror. Learning how to keep a space neat, fitting yourself into a schedule, and generally being considerate are all skills that sharing a bathroom reinforces.
Don’t get me wrong: if someone were to offer to add a full bathroom to my house, I would definitely not decline the offer. And in the future, we may add on to our existing home or move to another which would entail a second full bathroom. Until then, though, I am going to appreciate planning our showers out the night before and brushing my teeth with my husband in our closet-sized half bathroom. In what can already feel like an isolating world, sharing a bathroom can offer what society sometimes seems to lack: intimacy.