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Six of the remaining eight rolls of my master bath stash.

Only my closest friends know this about me, but since you’ve found your way here…I am a toilet paper hoarder.

It goes back to childhood, of course. Growing up poor meant that shopping was done the day after payday. If we ran out of something before the next check, we simply went without. Milk, eggs, cereal. No problem. Toilet paper, however, was a problem.

First, my mom would tell us to use tissues or paper towels. When those ran out we had no choice: We used cloth. Towels, wash cloths, and even old t-shirts. It sounds terrible, even now. I am actually cringing as I write this. This is why, when I got old enough to shop for myself, I started buying way more toilet paper than I ever really needed. I didn’t feel comfortable unless I had a big inventory in every bathroom. It worked out well for me — it was a harmless habit –but now, with COVID-19 hitting my county hard, I am starting to panic, especially since I am heeding the advice to stay in to flatten the curve. Yes, I’ve tried Target.com, CVS.com, Costco.com, Amazon, and RiteAid. Staples.com, too! Nothing. Nada. Not a square in sight. As my inventory dwindles, my anxiety is ramping up.

Here’s my inventory so you can see that I am not overreacting:

Master bath: Eight rolls

Kid’s bathroom: Two rolls

Downstairs guest bathroom: Six rolls

It might not seem terrible — 16 rolls for four people — but I usually have double or even triple that. I’ve had a standing automatic Amazon order for a while, so I was never even close to running out. Now, my ever-dropping stock of toilet paper is truly driving me a little crazy, especially since my little one is completely ignoring an important toilet paper edict. She’s been told to cut down to two squares for Number 1. I didn’t give her a limit on squares for Number 2, but I also buy wipes (yes, I hoard those, too), so it’s not like she needs 20 squares for one small flush. She thinks I am nuts, as per our discussion earlier in the week:

Me: How are you going through so much toilet paper?

Big Girl: Our bathroom is like a public bathroom in Penn Station! Every time I go in there she’s got toilet paper all over the floor. She’s wasting toilet paper!

Me: Little Girl, is this true?!?

Little Girl: I can’t use two squares. I need more than two squares. I don’t want my underwear to be dirty.

Me: Your ass is extremely tiny. If my much bigger ass only needs two squares after I pee, you do NOT need more than two squares. Dammit. (Notice the swearing! I do not usually swear!)

Little Girl: You’re acting a little crazy.

Me: !!!!!!

This morning, after the big one found the roll of toilet paper on the floor trailing all over the bathroom, I gave the little one a final warning: “If you do not start being more careful I am going to give you a roll of toilet paper at the beginning of the week and you won’t get any more until I say you need more.”

Big Girl thought that was an awesome idea. Little Girl…not so much.

I know, at this moment in time, toilet paper should be the least of my concerns. People are sick and dying everywhere. People are losing their jobs. Families and friends are being kept apart. I know it. I pray every day for all of us to get through this crisis with as little carnage as possible. I also know that running out of toilet paper can’t hold a candle to running out of N95 masks and protective gear– something that our brave healthcare providers are facing on an hourly basis. Still, childhood fears and issues persist.

Here’s hoping that the next few weeks pass quickly and that our heroes get exactly what they need to do their jobs safely. As for me? I will be revisting the idea of the family cloth. It’s probably time that I let go of that mental block. (In the meantime, if you can spare a square I would appreciate it!)

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