What crazy, busy young moms would do if they could escape their lives for a few days
“More double chocolate chuck cookies please,” I say to the cute waiter passing by my loungechair at the pool. “Oh! I almost forgot… would you ask the masseuse to come over?” This is my third day at the Momaway Resort and it has been just the escape I needed. Don’t get me wrong, I love my busy days with my two-year-old daughter and I feel fortunate that my husband’s job provides us enough that I don’t need to work outside the home. But my job as a mother leaves me very little time for myself. Before yesterday’s spa mani/pedi, I don’t think I’d had my nails done in about a year.
It took me a few hours to settle into being pampered. After a harried and tearful goodbye at home and the rigors of travel, the serenity that enveloped me upon arrival here was a shock; a welcome shock, but a shock nonetheless. I had prearranged to begin my week here with a 2-hour hot stone massage to help me unwind, and as soon as I felt the therapist’s soothing hands gently stroking my back, I took a few deep breaths and unexpectedly started sobbing. I didn’t realize how much stress I have been carrying around every day and I was flooded with a huge sense of relief at being able to set it down for awhile. After letting go of the worries, responsibilities, frustrations, and tedium of the everyday, my mind cleared and I felt such a wonderful sense of peace, a peace that has accompanied me during every moment here and that I hope to carry home with me when I leave.
The resort is run by a kind, elderly woman who once raised five children, so she knows well the exhaustion that mothers encounter. A few years ago, after a conversation with her granddaughter, she realized that mothers give so much of themselves and need some care giving in return. She began creating this welcoming space for all mothers who wish to escape for one week a year, fully paid for by a private endowment. Needless to say, there are millions of women who take advantage of the respite, and yet I don’t feel overcrowded at all. Just calm and enveloped by a loving staff who really seem to respect motherhood and think of it as the ultimate humanitarian mission. (The gentleman who made my omelet this morning said quietly to me that we mothers are building the future and he is in awe of us daily.)
A typical day here for me begins just before sunrise with a beautiful awakening ceremony seaside. A Buddhist priest leads us in humming a quiet greeting to the day. I walk barefoot back to my private cottage (the resort does not require shoes anywhere), where an earthen pot of English Breakfast tea, a warm, glazed cinnamon roll, and a favorite novel await me. I spend the morning reading, journaling, and napping. After a healthy and relaxing lunch with a few new friends I have made, I can choose among a number of activities (there is always the spa, and the resort has swimming pools, yoga classes, educational lectures, a movie theater, all kinds of craft sessions, cooking classes… you name it, it’s here) or I can retreat back to my cottage, the beach or the nearby lake, or the resort’s library. Today, I choose a bit of time at the pool, a three-hour scrapbooking class, followed by a one-on-one lesson with a world-famous photographer. After dinner I enjoy lying on a blanket at the beach near the fire, listening to a string quartet, gazing up at the stars, and talking amongst my friends. We discuss motherhood, but also our dreams. It is so nice to share these authentic moments with each other.
After 7 days, I feel renewed and refreshed. I’ve had the time and the opportunity to sort through the events of the past year, to select the memories that I wish to hold on to, and to consciously choose to shrug off the rest in order to make room for new experiences. I will keep the image of my daughter pulling on her first pair of ballet shoes and lifting her arms above her head as she tip-toes in a circle, ever the graceful ballerina. I will gladly lose the sense of vulnerability and the worry over her broken collar bone, but will keep the knowledge that I am strong and can handle a crisis. I will lose the memory of the argument with my husband about whose day was more stressful and who works harder, but will remember always the respect and appreciation he expressed when we calmly discussed it later.
All this self-discovery, and I still have four more days here! Let’s break open a bottle of wine and go find some more of those chocolate chunk cookies. Better yet, let’s take another nap.