The other half

I thought we were at the “mall” to go to story time at a bookstore. It’s an odd choice for me, seeing that I despise malls but my friend wanted to meet there so off we went. I had all the brood with me and was just beginning to get very nasty looks from the “concierge” (the concierge? at the mall?) because 2 of my boys were slashing at silk plants with their swords. I shouted loudly to my friend, “Hurry! They’re going to call the police if our children don’t stop attacking the plants!” and laughed heartily.

Then my husband showed up. He was going to the Mac store there and pulled me aside. “There is something I want to show you. Come with me.” I left my kids with my friend in the mall and walked with him into a swanky store and the first thing I thought was “Dear God, I hope he doesn’t want to buy my a birthday present in here. Eek, not me a’tall. But he did want to buy me a gift there because apparently in the back of the store is a very swanky spa. He walked to the woman and said, “We’re here for an appointment.”

Awestruck, I just looked at them converse about the plans and they led me back into the corridors and instructed me where to remove my clothes and put on a robe. “What, exactly, am I here for?” asked I. They were a little stunned. “You don’t know?” “I didn’t even know we were coming here” said I.

I was set up for a 90 minute massage, a manicure, a facial and a pedicure…a little overwhelming considering I barely have time to take a shower most days…this day, in fact, I was in need of one!

So I took my 90 minute massage. I like massage, this I can do, thought I. Then on to a facial. Um, not my thing. A very nice Eastern European woman took me into a small room, her first question being, “when was your last facial.” Not, have you EVER had a facial or is this your FIRST facial…which it might has well have been for me. It’s probably been 13 years since the one I had at a beauty school around the corner from our house back then. She massaged my face, exfoliated, creamed, exfoliated again, rubbed and prodded which was fine, but then she said, “Now, we remove the blackheads.” Which sounded rather foreboding…and it was.

I’m not sure of the impliment of torture used because I had my eyes closed but let me just say that it was painful, very. Add to this the commentary from the nice woman doing the torture, “My, you have a lot of these” and “Oh my, what will we do HERE?” So I said, “Well you could SKIP that area…” to which she laughed. I was not even kidding.

I survived the torture though and she was apologetic. My skin felt sort of slimey because of the abundant moisturizer but she kept saying that now my skin was “clean” so I guess that’s good.

I moved on to the pedicure which was awesome. God love the person who put together this idea of the pedicure. Being a bit ticklish it was only difficult for a moment during the scrub down of the heels but other than that I’ll take someone massaging my feet and painting my toenails ANY day.

It was during the last part, the manicure that I began to feel really odd about the whole thing. On one level I felt so honored that my husband would take the time and energy to plan it all out and execute it without my knowing. Birthday “presents” in the past 13 years have been a little lacking to say the least. I’ve never been one for traditional gifts, though. One year all I really wanted was affirmation, a few words like, “You’re doing great with the kids” or “You look nice today.”

But during the manicure we moved out of the spa area and into the swanky store, me in my favorite tee shirt, baseball cap and my rolled up Gap jeans, showing my hairy legs and spa flip flops. I’m sitting amongst designer perfumes and bags which were circled by high maintenance looking women with expensive looking taste. I just kept thinking, “I don’t belong here, I don’t want to belong here.” So when the lovely woman doing the manicure started chatting with me I spent the time asking about her. We talked about how long she had been in the United States from Viet Nam, we talked about her little boy who is 19 months old. She showed me pictures, he is adorable and I told her so. She beamed. When her next appointment showed up 15 minutes early and shot looks over at her because the manicurist was not able to take her yet, I talked about how I didn’t feel I belonged there and I expressed to her my gratitude for that moment.

She was very taken with this. She said, “You do deserve to be cared for.” And I knew she was right, but not like this really.
Still, I am thankful for that day but mostly I was happy to come home and clean up the chaos that happened in my absence. I felt cared for AND valuable. I was happy that my husband was pleased with his efforts, that he knew I was thankful. I was happy that my children came running back up to me and wanted my attention. I was thankful for the cards they made for me during my time away.

I think it would be very good if I could see that each day I deserve to be cared for…that I AM precious and valuable. Perhaps I won’t need to have a “spa day” or a month of verbal affirmation then. Wouldn’t that be amazing?


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