Before you have kids, popping to the loo is a little oasis of you-time in a busy day – a few minutes to be on your own, look at silly garbage on your phone and be on your own schedule for a bit. Just you, alone, with nobody to answer to.
As a parent, however, going to the toilet becomes something that resembles making it to the Crystal Dome – there’s loads of stuff to take care of before you even get there, and when you make it, it’s a high-pressure environment with a ticking clock and a very real chance of failure.
You don’t want an audience while performing this basic human task, but you can’t abandon a tiny child to fend for themselves. So there you find yourself, making awkward eye contact with a small person as you clench the necessary muscles to empty yourself.
Depending on your child’s age, you might have to hold them while you pee, or let them clamber all over you like you’re a climbing frame. Perhaps you leave the door open to let them gawp, point and yell at you.
“You just get used to being watched,” mum Emma Roberts tells us on Twitter. Gail, from Edinburgh, who runs the blog MumForce, added: “It’s like as soon as they hear me lift the lid – they hear it as family time. They also decide that time is the right time to demand things from me!”
“Barely had a wee to myself in 23 years!” wrote another.
Never being able to pee alone is like a microcosm of your whole existence – the idea that your life is no longer truly your own. Like, you can’t even have this. You’re not trying to forego all responsibilities to spend your days reclining on a chaise longue being fanned with ostrich feathers and fed caviar. You’re trying to void your bowels without feeling like you’re putting on a show.
It’s one thing getting used to the idea that there’s someone else you have to think about now, but it’s entirely another realising that the toilet is now an on-display event. The other option is holding everything in until they go to sleep, of course, but that’s hardly doable.
You can’t blame kids for being fascinated by their parents’ toilet comings-and-goings. A potty-training infant getting to watch a grown-up use the toilet is like a drama student getting to work with Robert De Niro.
But going to the toilet like an actual person is important, isn’t it? Going to the toilet when you need to, at a comfortable speed, maybe even allowing yourself the luxury of a quick bit of Angry Birds, is what separates us from the animals. And you don’t want your child to be raised by an animal, do you?
It feels like an occasion (along with aeroplane travel, which is no-man’s-land), where you should be allowed to throw the rules you’ve set yourself out the window. You might be the most anti-screen time, anti-junk food, wholesome parent in the world, but if Peppa Pig and a lolly mean you get to press one out in peace, go for it.