Yesterday I went to Macy's in search of, well, nevermind what I was searching for. What I ended up finding was a frigid little corner in the back of cosmetics populated exclusively by Origin's products, repped by a very enthusiastic elderly woman named Janice.
Janice had a flowing, blonde mane and deep rings of sea green eyeliner, which perhaps should have scared me off, but which somehow lured me into a false sense of security and wellbeing. Before I knew what was happening, I found myself reclining in a spring loaded beach chair, subject to a complimentary mini facial involving rice, tea tree oil, and numerous iterations of ginger.
Ginger is so hot right now.
As Janice worked powdered rice and eucalyptus oil into my dull, lifeless pores, she regaled me with stories of Japanese women washing their tired faces in dirty, standing water after hours of toil in the rice paddies. Wouldn't you know it though, the starchy rice water ended up being miraculously regenerative and had a stunning effect on the complexions of these poor field laborers. I'm sorry to say, I left that department store with a $30 tube of concentrated rice facial scrubbing paste in my clutches.
Janice was aaaaaaalso kind of into the occult, and she had a fairly distinctive facial and vocal tic which may or may not have been supernatural in origin, so I felt well within my rights praying a silent litany of Hail Mary's as she peppered me with stories about Native American healing energy and reiki treatments, all while spontaneously cackling and throwing her head back at a jarring 90 degree angle.
I'm not gonna lie, my face feels amazing, but it was not the most peaceful 45 minutes I've ever spent.
It was, however, fairly pleasant. And aside from the $80 I accidentally spent on products, it was free!
I was thinking of how lucky I'd been to stumble upon a bored aspiring cosmotologist with a "spiritual" side whilst wandering through racks of overpriced, middle-aged clothing when it occurred to me that even this small coincidence, this badly-needed moment of being "off duty" was a complete and utter gift to me.
It might not seem like God could - or would - work through a New Age aficionado of a beautician in a department store to fill a tired mom's cup, but that's precisely what He did for me yesterday afternoon, as the snow fell and the temperature dropped and my darling husband sat at home watching a losing football game and all three kids.
He's good like that.
I often find that when I'm searching and plotting and planning to pamper myself, when I'm actively seeking escape, those are the times when relief and relaxation are most inaccessible.
Do you ever have that feeling, when you've been given an unexpected childless hour to do ... whatever, and instead you fritter away precious minutes agonizing over what to do, how to spend it, where to do, how to squeeze the very most out of it that you can because dammit, you will never be alone again?
I feel that way all the time.
Almost every time my mother's helper comes. Those evenings when Dave graciously pushes me out the door for a solo trip to the gym. The stolen, infrequent hours when all three kids miraculously fall asleep at the same time.
I usually sit there frozen, paralyzed by my own fear of choosing wrongly how to spend this coveted and precious time. And I end up at Target or doing laundry or...something. Something so utterly banal and unfulfilling that even if I accomplish massive sections of my mental To Do list, I still come back home empty, restless, and unfulfilled.
I sound completely selfish and a little bit crazy, but I'm telling you, it's not easy to be "off." It's one of the hardest things about motherhood, for me, that even when I'm technically not on duty, my heart and my head and God knows, the anxiety levels, are still fully engaged in the business of mothering.
I'm trying to do better.
I'm trying to seek out pockets of calm, moments of grace that God wants to give me. Not stolen moments, or experiences carved out of long days with gritted teeth and a heart full of resentment, but gifts given. I'm really trying to see the opportunities He presents for peace, relaxation, and renewal, and to accept them with gratitude and with the expectation that He wants this. And it's okay if I turn my ringer off and just ... close my eyes and settle in. Whether it's for a few silent minutes in Adoration or for a hot peppermint mocha. Just breathe. Accept His invitation to surrender the reins and abandon post.
Even if Janice is rubbing rice powder into my eyes and asking about my chakras.