Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hurry Up and Relax


Last November, I turned 40 on a depressing, rainy Monday.  We'd just moved to New Zealand from Japan and were finding our feet, so I didn't do anything to celebrate. My best friend in New York surprised me with a luxury spa treatment at one of the top hotels here in Auckland. She'd organised it with my husband, and I was genuinely surprised.

An actual 3 hour spa treatment at that gorgeous hotel. "I'll hang onto it until the perfect opportunity to book it in." I told myself. But then, life happened. I work from 9:30 am - 2:30 pm and my kids go to school from 9 - 3, so there's no time during the week.

Weekends? I have a teenager, 9 year old and a 5 year old. The older two are heavily involved in sports, meaning we all have to go our separate busy ways most weekends. No dice there, either. 

"Ah, no hurry, I have until October 28th next year to use it." I told myself on November 3rd last year. 

When did I actually use it? October 25th.

Of course, this happened to coincide with the boys' bonding weekend my husband and older son had planned for the first time ever. My daughter had her friend over to ours for a sleepover and I negotiated a deal with them to watch my 5 year old son while I went for my spa in exchange for a day of shopping the following day.

At this point, I was so anxious, I wasn't actually able to look past organising the logistics of it enough to even look forward to it. The thought of being a 20 minute drive away, getting a massage without my phone in my hand should have been enticing, but I was convinced something awful would happen at home base while I was off being selfish. As I sat in the waiting area, I took a photo of the spa's business card and texted them off to my husband and daughter "just in case."

Before I knew it, I found myself lapping up the amazing 45 minute pre-treatment ritual of jacuzzi, snail shower, ice flicks, sauna, back to ice flicks, then to the herbal steam spa. This was just the lead up and I was the most relaxed I'd been in who knows how long. To be honest, I probably would've been perfectly satisfied to have gone home at this point already...until I was called into my private room for the 2 hour treatment. As I lay in dimly lit room, feeling woozy from the heady combination of all that relaxing and the heavenly aroma of coconut and vanilla oils, I had no trouble getting comfy on that massage table. About 15 minutes into it though,  I started having visions of my son falling off a tree and breaking his arm, or him putting his leg through the large front window while playing soccer, my distraught daughter desperately trying to get a hold of me through the hotel operator. I played both roles of devil and angel on my shoulders as I was supposed to be relaxing. 30 minutes of exfoliating later, I was placed in the most beautiful, candlelit tub for 30 minutes of soaking. This was magical...for about 10 minutes. Then I subconsciously started bracing myself for the knock on the door with one of my kids wanting to use the toilet or wanting something to eat. I didn't know what to do, I felt guilty with all that peace and serenity to myself for all that extended period of time. When the masseuse came back and I got back on that table for another hour, I continued my game of dreaming up worst case scenarios and talking myself down. I'd left my phone in the locker - what if there were dozens of urgent texts and missed calls? No, my daughter and husband had the hotel's number, if there was some kind of emergency, I'd know by now and on and on it went. All that worrying actually gave me a headache! How pathetic is that? In midst of this decadent, time for self indulging, I couldn't shut my mind up for longer than 10 minutes. 

After the treatment, I was led to a gorgeous chaise lounge, draped with a canopy. Beside the chaise was a mocktail, a shot of ginger and lemonade, fruit and nuts and a pot of herbal Chinese tea. The masseuse talked me through the final ritual of my experience. I was to just be still and treat myself to these refreshments, to take as much time as I needed. Then, when I felt ready, I was encouraged to go and repeat the whole pre-treatment spas again. I didn't have my phone or watch on, so I had no concept of how much time had passed (I think I might've fallen asleep during the massage, adding to my complete being out of it-ness) so when I glanced at the clock on the wall and saw that it was 10 minutes away from "the latest" time I'd given my daughter of my anticipated return home, I took the refreshments like a series of tequila shots and high-tailed it out of there. 

As I sped home, I couldn't help but laugh. Only I could turn an opportunity to just let go and relax into a session of overthinking and rushing! It wasn't all like that though, there were lovely bits in between where I relished the experience, vowing from this day forward, I would only ever gift fellow mothers with a spa voucher. I told myself that I needed to start being nicer to myself and treat myself once every few months with something like this. 

Even though I'd only been out of the house for a total of 3 and a half hours, I felt like I'd been away for days. "Who needs a holiday? A massage is just as good as a tropical getaway" I was telling myself, as I opened my front door. I was on Cloud 9 - until I was greeted by my eye rolling teenager with a "FINALLY!" handing my hungry son over to me as she stormed off with her BFF. 

Normally, I would've launched into one of my standard speeches about attitude and how we treat people, but not today. Thanks to my spa treatment, I had enough chill to let that slide. 

A whole lotta chill and one hell of a headache. Where's that aspirin?