Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Mental Health Day

Last Friday I did something I rarely do:

I took half a day off from work and spent time on myself. It felt weird at first, but I realized that this time was actually a very good thing – not just for me, but for the entire family. Because really, there are times I just want either to run away or to get out a wet noodle and start beating everyone with it – or eat it, which is probably what would most likely happen, especially if there was spaghetti sauce nearby.

It’s hard to not think of time off like that as lazy time because I really had so much to do. Guilt usually sets in somewhere about how I could better use the day, tackling long overdue tasks like ironing or cleaning out the fridge. (Ugh to both!) But I think I really needed a Mental Health Day (MHD) – meaning that if I didn’t spend some time on myself, I would go mental on everyone really soon! (See above paragraph.)

I decided to use a spa gift certificate that Santa gave me for Christmas. (No really, it did come from Santa. I got a FedEx on day at work and it said, “To Shalee, From Santa.” How much more proof do you need than that?)

I used it to get an hour massage. What a glorious hour that was! Soft relaxing music, dimmed lights and a warmed soft table was the setting for this hour of forgetting everything. The therapist must have the strongest, softest hands on earth because she was working wonders on me. Knots in my shoulders disappeared, my legs barely were able to get me to the car when I was done, and I yawned continually for the rest of the day. Ahhh, bliss.

But the self-indulgence did not stop there. I wasn’t done by a long shot.

Chinese was calling my name on the way home, so of course I gave into it, especially since I had to drive by the best Chinese restaurant ever - Fortune Wok. I had to eat, right? There was something extremely satisfying about getting to eat a meal all by myself (read: no kids asking for anything that I have). I ordered it to go and went home to eat in front of the TV, something that I do only once in a blue moon. I watched a foreign film- Happenstance- that was humorous, quirky and entertaining. (It had Audrey Tautou, an actress that I have liked since Amélie.) I found that I was actually enjoying doing nothing and not thinking about the things that still needed to be done.

As my relaxing time was drawing to a close because school was letting out shortly, I realized that I was all set for the rest of the day. I was ready for the kids to come home; I actually was looking forward to making dinner and to doing some of the things that I had to do. In short, I was looking forward to being Mom again.

I felt more like myself than I had in a long time. And I really liked it. And so did the family. (Hear their sigh of collective relief.)

I still have enough of the gift certificate left for another two massages. That’s two more MHD in my future. I sure am going to look forward to doing it again – completely guilt-free. But I am going to wait to take those MHD until I lose track of myself again so that the adventure of finding myself is just as pleasurable and refreshing.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you Santa. I really needed that.

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