The other day I redeemed a long-saved gift certificate for a massage, a birthday present from a dear friend way back in February. A massage! An hour of complete and utter pampering! For an overtired, overworked mama! Can you imagine my excitement?
Only I spent the entire session not visualizing serene images of seascapes or summer sunsets as the massage therapist’s hands smoothed my neglected muscles, but ruminating on myriad mothering minutiae: my three-year-old’s preschool registration forms - due next week - and my baby’s summer virus, her feverish rosy cheeks and bleating cry.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. It was still a blissful treat to snatch an hour to myself for such a rare and luxurious indulgence. It’s just that the bliss was - of course! - peppered with a fair amount of mama-hood preoccupation. Isn’t that always the way? Isn’t it kind of like those rare times you get together with your fellow-mom friends alone, without the children, and you spend the entire time talking about your kids?
This “balance” thing, this struggle to carve out time and mental space to be not just a mother but also an adult with one’s own interests and passions, with occasional non-child-centered priorities and social engagements - it’s not easy. Moms today are so busy with the relentless demands of home, work, and family that it can be hard to flip the switch on the constant hum of caretaking concerns and tune in to our own inner needs. But we all need time alone to fill up our internal cups, to fend off physical and emotional depletion. We need hours away from our children, our households, to clear our minds of baby-talk and grocery lists. Maybe for you it’s not a massage; maybe it’s a run, or a cup of tea in a favorite café, or a book club meeting. Whatever it is, it lends balance to what can often feel like a precarious life.
It’s true, sometimes you end up worrying about the sick baby during the birthday massage. You try to throw a little balance into your busy life, a little personal time to temper all those moments you give away on a daily basis to the tiny children who need you so much, and that little slice of “balance” ends up feeling more elusive than you imagined it would. But I’m thinking that maybe it gets easier with practice. So I’m planning on booking another massage before too long. What about you?