To begin with, when I said that I would be blogging less over the summer, I certainly did not think I would go this long between posts, but it has been a wild ride of a summer so far! My daughter is officially married two weeks as of today. She is also back from her Caribbean honeymoon. The wedding weekend was perfect and the wedding itself was like a fairy tale, only better, because it was real. She was a gorgeous bride and my son-in-law, who I adore, was a very handsome groom. Best of all, I had all seven of my children in one place at the same time, which is rare these days. My 7 year old was in heaven all weekend, flitting from one sibling group to another. Everyone had a splendid time, and there was no “anyone-zilla” moments at any time.
Not a single thing went wrong the entire wedding weekend. You see, my daughter is a planner, unlike her mother. She had everything organized so beautifully that it was seamless. She gave me the role at the wedding of the “go to” person, something that I excel at, and I carried that role through the reception, happy to do it. It was a weekend to remember for a very long time to come. NYC is gorgeous in the summer, if not a little hot…
My daughter is not just a top notch organizer, she also is caring and generous, so I felt more than a little pampered during our stay in NYC. My two daughters, the little bro, and I stayed together in a lovely suite with a full kitchen and all the amenities one could need. On the day before the wedding, Emily took her matron of honor, her sister, and I out for manicures and pedicures. What a treat! During the pedicure phase, the technician was massaging my feet and asked me if I’d like a 10 minute foot massage. Oh, it felt so heavenly that I jumped at the opportunity, and it was during this divine foot massage that I found myself fighting back tears.
These tears were not the emotions of a mother about to marry off a daughter, but of a woman realizing that despite her dedication to self care, she had forgotten entirely about the fine art of pampering one’s self. It wasn’t self pity. It was like life–my life for the past 12 years–passing before my eyes, as if a small part of me was dying. I think it was the part of me that felt it needed to be punished. In those 10 minutes, I saw, and felt as much as I could in the middle of a nail salon, what the last 12 years had been like for me as a woman. I saw the drinking, and the rehabs, and the relapses. I saw jails, and prison. I saw a very bad marriage, and leaving it on my 50th birthday. I saw the death of my brother-in-law and moves. I also saw the healing of myself and my son and my whole family post the drinking, and the incarcerations, and the abuse of my marriage, and I saw sustained sobriety, love, peace, and a very happy life. What I did not see was me taking the time to ever truly pamper me in that time period. Like the weeks preceding my daughter’s wedding, I had spent 12 years moving steadily from one thing to the next to the next with little thought for niceties for myself.
Rest assured that I do not go without goodies entirely. I have a friend who spoils me with things regularly, and my children spoil me with gifts on the three major Mom holidays—Christmas, Mother’s Day, and my birthday. I want for nothing, except for the things that only I can give to myself like the nightly bubble bath I took for most of my life, or doing my own nails nicely, or giving myself a facial, or putting a few “Me” movies onto our Netflix queue. No one can do those things for me, and those things are my idea of pampering, simple as they are. How could I forget something that I used to be quite good at, like slathering myself with lotion any chance I got, or having matching undie sets? Lack of time and money are not excuses. I had been neglecting the one person who I need to take the best care of and that person was me.
As I mentioned, I am quite good at self care. I eat an impeccable diet, and have my BMI well within a normal range now. My blood pressure is normal, and I went off of my statin with my doctor’s approval and lowered my cholesterol to within normal limits in three months time. I exercise, I have a regular bedtime and wake up time, and all of my female tests are perfect. My body is in fine shape. I take care of my mind by reading, writing, and playing Scrabble, I take care of my spirit by listening to music, dancing, and again, writing. I take care of my soul by praying for an hour every day, reading the Bible, and the devotional masters from past centuries. I took care of my emotional needs by getting the help I needed to heal from a lifetime of trauma. As a result, all past psychiatric diagnoses have disappeared, and I have rewired my brain to the point where I need no psych medications and have never been happier, or more at peace. Self care is work and it takes practice, but it pays off greatly in the end.
However, self care without pampering is like cake with no frosting. The cake may be good, but it will be lacking the fullness of its delight without the frosting. What good is a well cared for mind, body, and soul, if you do not pamper it from time to time even in the most simple ways? I have begun again to build the habit of pampering into my life. Being a single mom makes it harder, but not impossible. I started yesterday by dressing up for no reason.
I have begun my nightly baths again, and bought a pumice stone for my feet. Yesterday, I did my nails and instead of the usual messy, slap dash, job that I do myself, I took my time and made it a half day event. I used a base coat and let it dry fully, two coats of carefully applied polish, well dried between applications, and a top coat. I didn’t try to do a million other things with half dry nails, and what do you know? My nails look like they were professionally done. This morning, I gave myself a decadent kitchen cupboard facial, with a sugar and lemon juice scrub, a cocoa and oatmeal mask, and a coating of olive oil. It took all of 30 minutes. My feet have been moisturized twice, and do they feel happier for that small effort!
Sometimes it feels like life is about putting out fires. We run from one fire to the next to the next to the next. At some point, we think, “Okay, I have finally got this. I have achieved balance. All of the fires are under control.” Inevitably, something comes along to show us that we have not quite “won at life” yet. I thank God for that–for the continual opportunity to learn and grow and to make adjustments, even if the lesson that needs to be learned is a repeat of something that I used to know. Relearning to pamper myself regularly is a lesson I know I am going to enjoy. I hope you all will learn to enjoy it, too. Thank you Emily for helping me to remember to pamper me, too! Now, you all go do something nice for yourselves!