Before I became a mommy, I loved few things more than a massage and a facial. Or a pedicure. Or a manicure. Or getting my hair done. Hell, even getting waxed. Pretty much any kind of pampering was right up my alley and an afternoon at the spa was exceptionally high on my list of favorite activities. And why not? What else did I have to do? I look back on those days, when I was young and naive and essentially without obligations, and it often feels like I’m looking back on the life of a completely different person.
That isn’t to say I’d trade what I have now for the treats I enjoyed then — as cliched as it can sound, my little boy is the best thing that has ever happened to me. The way my life has changed is for the better, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little wistful for those leisurely afternoons getting “beautified.” Because even now, when I’m treated to an hour or two at the salon, it’s not nearly as relaxing as it was back in the days when I didn’t have to come home and baby wrangle for the rest of the day. I know that before Chase came along, I did a whole lot of nothing. But I have to admit that enjoyed it. Immensely.
So it’s funny, when I think about all that time and money spent at various salons and spas, and compare it to what I now consider a luxury. Sure, the couples massage my husband treated us to for Valentine’s Day was fantastic, and I enjoyed every minute of it. But those kind of treats are few and far between, as neither our time or our dollars are as expendable as they once were. More often, I find myself enjoying activities that are more pedestrian, affordable and mundane in nature, but just as relaxing:
— Going grocery shopping — alone. Sweet Jehoshaphat, I can’t think of anything else I love more these days than getting to spend an hour or more at the grocery store, leisurely walking around, tasting samples in the prepared food department, strolling through the wine section, eying the desserts in the bakery and just generally enjoying the fact that I don’t have a screaming toddler in the basket of the cart, begging to go back to the “choo” (train) that runs along the ceiling in the back of the store. Instead of pulling my hair out, rushing through the aisles and then inevitably forgetting half of my list as I narrowly avoid yet another full scale tantrum, only to get to the checkout and realize I also left all of the coupons on the kitchen counter at home, I’m able to take care of the food shopping for the entire week, and I can return home feeling refreshed and like I’ve actually managed to get something done, instead of feeling irritated and exhausted. I wonder if Wegman’s is even aware their stores can have such restorative powers?
— Taking my car in for servicing. I had to do this a month ago or so, and rather than attempt to keep Chase entertained in the waiting area of the dealership for an hour or more, I asked my mother-in-law to watch him. It seemed like a fairly basic chore at first, but once I realized I had a full hour-and-a-half to just sit, drink coffee, and catch up on the pile of Us Weekly’s that had been littering our coffee table for weeks, I was beyond excited. I returned home refreshed, relaxed, and totally caught up on all things celebrity gossip. It was a great little break and only cost me the price of an oil change and a tire rotation.
— Flying — without an infant. Last October a good friend of mine from high school got married in St. Louis, and my husband and I made the trip out there for the wedding — sans baby boy. After multiple flights with an infant, flying without one felt positively luxurious. It felt like a vacation. Instead of worrying about how long we’d sit on the runway before taking off, I read a book and relaxed with my husband. Instead of fretting over whether I’d packed enough snacks, toys, and books, I ordered a glass of wine. Then I ordered another one. And instead of trying to figure out how to balance a diaper bag, a bag full of books, bottles and baby toys, a stinky diaper, a stroller, and one bouncing baby boy through security, I breezed right through with nothing more than my handbag. It just felt so much easier I couldn’t get over it. Leaving Chase at home with his grandparents for the first time was difficult, and I shed more than a few tears, but once we were through security I felt like I was on spring break.
I don’t know, maybe it sounds a little pathetic to find so much luxury in what would otherwise seem like the most boring and forgettable of activities. If that’s the case, well, actually, I don’t really care. I think the best part about all of these “mommy spa” activities is that they actually make me a better mom. Getting a little down time now and then, even if it is spent at the food store, or the car dealership, or in an airport security line, allows me to sit back and breathe and not feel like I’m being pulled in every single direction at once, in turn making me more relaxed and patient and able to take on the next challenge. And isn’t that what a spa is for?
——By Christina, PHILADELPHIA MOMS BLOG
This is an original post from the Philadelphia Moms Blog, http://www.phillymomsblog.com. Christina also blogs at her personal blog, Little Man Chase (http://littlemanchase.blogspot.com/).