Hot Showers

I was in a hurry because I had somewhere to be. I handed my baby off to one of my older children and jumped in the shower. My hair was full of shampoo when the water turned cold. Oh, no, I thought. Something’s wrong with the water boiler.

Lucky for me, my sisterwife Melissa has a separate water heater. I knew that even tho I had no hot water in my own shower, I had easy access to hot water just by going across the house to her apartment.

I threw on a robe, gathered up my showering supplies, and headed to my sisterwife’s section of our big, built-for-polygamists house. All I had to do was walk thru the door that connects my great room to her kitchen and say, “Hey, Melissa, may I finish my shower in your bathroom?”

She didn’t ask any questions. She just said, “Yes, of course.”

I went downstairs to her guest bathroom and finished my shower with only that few minutes’ delay.

When we were talking with Kody Brown about the possibility of buying this house from him and his wives, Kody bragged about the water boiler that would be providing my hot water. He told me he loves taking long showers — sometimes lasting 2 or 2 1/2 hours! — and that this water boiler never failed to keep up with his marathon uses of the hot water.

No wonder he never showered in Janelle’s boondocked RV in season 17 of Sister Wives!

Oh, that reminds me to tell you: it’s no longer the case that I’ve never watched Sister Wives, like I mentioned in a previous post. Melissa and I are watching the current season.

Anyway, back to the idea of marathon hot showers. This possibility used to be completely foreign to me. I grew up in a house with its plumbing geography so intricately connected that if I was in the shower and someone flushed a toilet somewhere, the shower would temporarily turn ice cold. The water heater also had a tank so small and turned to such a moderate temperature that it’s temperature turned down so much we had to keep our showers under 10 minutes, and multiple people couldn’t take hot showers back-to-back. It was best to space our family members’ showers out by at least half a day if no one wanted a cold shower.

Even the house we lived in before this one had enough people sharing its 2 bathrooms and 1 water heater that we had to coordinate our schedule in order to avoid problems. Having limited hot water has always been normal to me.

But Kody was right about this water boiler: in the 6+ years since buying this house from the Browns, I haven’t once had to give a second thought to whether anyone else in the house was washing dishes, flushing a toilet, or even showering in another bathroom; it’s been paradise.

Okay, a quick explanation of the layout of this house is in order.

As you saw if you watched the glory days of Sister Wives (i.e., when they were all in one big house in Lehi, Utah), the house I live in is broken into 3 separate apartments connected on the inside: the top right was Meri’s (and is now mine); the bottom right was Christine’s (and is now occupied by some of our monogamous extended family); and both the upstairs and downstairs of the lefthand side was Janelle’s (and is now my sisterwife Melissa’s).

The righthand side of the house is original; this house was built for a plural family with just 2 wives. The lefhand side was added on later. Once you know that, it makes sense that both apartments of the righthand side share the electric wiring (1 breaker box) and the plumbing (including 1 shared water boiler), but the lefthand side of the house got added on later and has separate electric and plumbing. In fact, the lefthand side has forced air heating (rather than the radiant heat of the righthand side) and central air conditioning (instead of an evaporative cooler). My sisterwife Melissa has her own breaker box and utility room separate from my utilities. Each of the 3 apartments has its own thermostat.

Even before the interrupted shower I told about at the beginning of this post, Melissa and I having separate plumbing has been convenient at other times as well.

Right after she had her last baby and she was freshly postpartum and needing extra trips to the bathroom, her side of the house had plumbing problems and she had to come over to my part of the house for a few days whenever she needed to use the toilet or shower. It obviously wasn’t as convenient as having a master bathroom, but it was better than any alternative.

Similarly, I have had to use her plumbing before. A few weeks ago our husband Joshua had shut off the water to my side of the house and was in the middle of a repair when he arrived at the hardware store 5 minutes after it closed. Since he had to go to work in the morning before the hardware store opened, I was without water for another 24 hours. It sure was nice to just carry my dirty dishes thru the connecting door in order to do my dishes in my sisterwife’s kitchen. I also had the option to use her laundry room, but it ended up not being necessary.

One thing that strikes me as interesting and, in my opinion, pretty smart about this house is: Each of the 3 apartments is very different from the others. It lets us each have a house with our own personality and without as many comparisons. I’m sure Melissa and I could sit and list out the pros and cons of the various apartments. None of them is obviously superior or inferior to the others.

As an example, in a previous season of Sister Wives, Christine said that in the Lehi house, Kody wouldn’t shower in her house because Meri had a better shower.

I would have to agree. Meri had a way better shower. The apartment that was Christine’s has only 1 full bathroom, and that’s the communal/hall bathroom. There is a second bathroom off the master bedroom, but it is only a half-bath; the master bathroom doesn’t have a shower! It’s so weird! So unless Kody wanted to take his shower in the bathroom shared with all the children, you betcha Meri’s shower was better.

Here’s where Kody Brown and my husband Joshua are so different (and Melissa and I both respect Joshua so much that we could talk all day about this). If Joshua was in Kody’s shoes, with a wife in Christine’s old apartment, I guarantee he would shower down there. Just because another wife’s shower is better or cooking is better or company is preferred, doesn’t mean the husband has the privilege of just taking the best all the time. It is important to normal women to get treated reasonably equally. I don’t blame Christine at all for being upset, and it is insensitive and, frankly, foolish, to hear a wife express her insecurities for years and for the plural husband not to heed her requests.

In the clip above, Christine also complains that her entrance was in the back, so Kody wouldn’t enter the house thru it. Joshua makes a point of going thru the front door of the wife he’ll be with that night.

At times it’s awkward and even unnatural for him, like the other night, when he got home from work while my parents were over and Melissa and her children were already in my house visiting with us. He literally walked right past my front door and into Melissa’s front door, and came into my front room thru the interior connecting door. He does that on purpose, very deliberately and thoughtfully. He wants to send all the signals that he loves each of us and treats us each as a wife.

Kody seems to have things backwards from how Joshua thinks about them. Kody worries a lot about his wives taking care of his needs; Joshua worries a lot about taking care of the needs of his wives. Kody seems to hang out with the wife who is currently easiest to get along with; Joshua has always had a schedule he stuck to, even if he has a moody wife. If Christine doesn’t want Kody in his bed, he goes to Robyn’s house, even tho Robyn discourages it.

If Joshua and I couldn’t get along and we didn’t want to share a bedroom, there’s no way he would just go sleep with Melissa instead. He would sleep in another room in my house, perhaps, — or maybe if I’m angry with him, I should be the one sleeping on the couch. After all, it’s his bedroom too — but he would even go to a hotel first before he’d go to another wife. Maybe I should’t speak for him. But I’m telling you that there are different ways to handle things than how Kody handles them on the TV show. It seems like Christine put up with a lot and that Melissa and I have nothing to complain about in comparison.

Here’s a fun bonus video clip for you. I actually remember the day this was filmed. We were hanging out in the vacant house with some of the Browns and a few mutual friends, and the Browns made all of us leave because TLC was coming so that they could film.

I watched this while preparing this blog post, and my teenage son was kind of looking over my shoulder. It was weird seeing our empty house just as it was when we moved in, kind of eery writing this post while in the very room shown on the screen, and funny listening to the 3 of them discuss what to do with the property,

My son said, “Spoiler alert: You’re going to sell it to us.”

“My cousin has two moms (and a dad)”

We live in the house we bought six years ago from Kody Brown. He lived in this house with 3 wives: Christine, Janelle, and Meri. (He married Robyn while the Brown family was living here.)

The house has 3 distinct apartments, which means three kitchens, three laundry rooms, many entrances, a single driveway (with many parking spots), and one huge utility bill, ha ha. Our dream house would also have a large communal area, but all in all, this house is awesome for a plural family.

Our family has only 2 wives. We have courted a potential third wife once or twice, but obviously it’s never worked out; you might be surprised how difficult it is to find a good fit for a well-established family, but those are stories for another time. I hope Joshua will have the opportunity to love 3 wives someday.

When referring to sections of the house, we freely use the word “house” for what might more accurately be called an apartment. But since that can get a little confusing I’ll just call them apartments. I live in the “apartment” formerly occupied by Meri Brown, and my sisterwife Melissa lives where Janelle Brown used to live. In the 3rd apartment (Christine Brown’s) lives some members of our extended family, including two of my nieces. (By the way, the family isn’t polygamous.)

Today, my nieces had a friend over whom I had never met. The 3 little girls were sitting on my porch steps, and I went past them on my way to the driveway. “Hello, girls!” I said. “Eating fudgsicles, eh? Yum!”

The older niece told her friend, “That’s my cousin’s mom.”

She was corrected by my younger niece: “One of her moms.”

Older niece: “Her husband is a polygamist!”

I didn’t hear what their young friend said in response. I just kept walking.

I was charmed by the innocence of the children freely sharing a fact about their aunt with no embarrassment or hesitation.

Later that day we were out in public, and we happened to see that same girl. Once again I thought about how we polygamists often just fit right in: You probably don’t even realize when you’re sharing the children’s museum or the swimming pool with polygamists.

Being introduced as one of my daughter’s moms is something that definitely wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t a polygamist.