Saturday, August 12, 2006


It's hard for me to lift my hands to the keyboard after the total relaxation of this morning's Spa Escape. Just having ten new moms get together to talk and relax without their little ones for an hour was extraordinary enough, but then add in the exfoliation, moisturization, meditation and massage and it was downright indulgent. In a good way. We all need some indulgence once in a while, as our personal pre-spa "stress surveys" indicated. I ticked off 19 out of the 21 stress symptoms, and I still wasn't the highest scorer of the bunch. We're a hard-working group, us moms, and it's okay for us to acknowledge that. Proclaim it, even. If we try to act like it's all under control, we're denying ourselves the chance to recuperate and the stress just keeps piling up. And we're also giving the wrong impression to other moms, especially brand-new moms, by acting like the constant juggling act of motherhood is no big deal. It is a big deal, perhaps the biggest deal there is. It's an excrutiatingly tough job with rare and usually intangible benefits.

When I had my daughter, everyone - from Oprah to my dad - told me to take time for myself. And I didn't listen. I couldn't listen. I had a baby screaming in my ear. So instead of exhorting new moms to add one more task to their infinite to-do lists (right between taking a shower and keeping a small human alive until it's old enough to read Salinger and glare at her all the time), I'll direct this to the dads, grandparents, friends and otherwise concerned parties who have a new mom in their midst: give mama some time to herself. Take the baby out of her arms and hand her the car keys. Or grab the toddler and have an adventure at least 50 yards away from the house. Or just let her sleep. As we learned today, it doesn't take $500, a plushy robe and a room full of candles to have a "spa escape." All it takes is someone thoughtful enough to take a little care of someone else.

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