The Spa Appointment: A Mother's Tale
I got a gift for my birthday of a voucher for a facial and I eventually got around to using it today. I was dying for some of the Mams at the school to ask me as I dropped my kids off if I had plans for the rest of the morning so I could casually throw it into conversation as if it were a regular occurrence.
Thing is, I’ve never had one and the closest I’ve gotten to beauty treatments were some Turkish baths back in my repping days that if any of you have ever had you will know are far removed from glamorous and relaxing.
I arrived at the day spa and walked inside with the same feeling I have entering Brown Thomas: as if someone will tap me on the shoulder and say “you don’t belong here”. I felt clumsy and awkward, particularly when I went to push the door and realised they weren’t yet open… a cardinal sin in business (I work in retail and we pour whispery scorn over any customers who wait impatiently outside for the shutters to open).
The receptionist let me in 10 minutes later and as I took a seat, I was swallowed very unladylike by an overstuffed couch. I was then led down a candlelit corridor to a candlelit room that reeked of aromatherapy oils: Surely this was a health and safety hazard?
My facialist (is that the word?) arrived looking immaculate and professional with a clipboard. I stood there feeling a bit scarlet and she told me to strip so my shoulders were bare or whatever I was comfortable in and I made an inappropriate joke about being naked and she calmly said if that was what made me comfortable. I took a full-on secondary-school-oral-Irish-haven't-a-word redner. I was asked to fill in a form and she would be back to discuss the needs of my skin.
I got under the towel and unbuttoned my jeans in a halfway gesture of comfort. She came back and said, “I see you ticked 4 out of 5 for stress” and raised her on fleek eyebrows… “I have 3 kids under 8”, I countered and she nodded satisfied and moved swiftly on (I had hovered over 5 for some time but didn't want to alarm the girl).
I had ticked no to smoking as I figured the occasional social one didn't count and I bitterly regretted not following a restricted diet or exercising regularly as I ticked no to both of these. I will sooo get on top of my health and weight when all 3 are in school next September: I’ll join the gym and go back to Slimming World... promise... but until then I will continue my diet of caffeine, toast and Caramellos.
She spoke about my skin type and how it was slightly dehydrated and that I should use a higher SPF and I had my first pang of middle class guilt… and thought jaysus we’re talking about my skin needing more water and there’s people in the world with none… I had to tell my inner voice to shut up and there’s a chance she heard. There was a lot of fluthering at the sink and stuff put on my face only to be washed off and many opportunities for the girl to say she was popping outside.
She told me to use the time to doze off with no kids to bother me and while this has always been the dream I found myself stressing because I’d to go to Smyths later and buy presents for two parties mine were invited to over the weekend. I also wondered if it was a good idea if my phone was on silent in case the school was calling. I worried if my ridiculously small bladder would let me down and regretted the coffee on the way over.
The music drove me mad... it reminded me of my childhood where my parents record collection consisted of a series of Richard Clayderman plays popular music LPs. This led to some embarrassing peer conversations where I'd hear a song (ie Flashdance) and ask when the piano solo was going to kick in. I felt like I was in a lift and wished I could listen to Joe Duffy or Newstalk: anything could be happening in the world.
The girl came back in and unused to the quiet I started babbling and asking her about her life as she waved lavender under my nostrils and I thought she’d probably be happier with chloroform but adult conversations are hard to come by and I’ll take them where I can. Some products were recommended but I proudly told her I buy all my creams in Aldi and they are fantastic, particularly the Caviar ones and she had to concur and shelve any ambition she had for commission.
Afterwards, I sat in the car and looked critically in the mirror and saw no difference at all and I wished I’d gotten a shellac or a vajazzle. It was all a bit smoke and mirrors or candles and smells. Since having kids, I’m constantly on alert… for danger, temperatures, f-bombs; it’s like I’ve drunk 10 coffees (literally and figuratively) and I find it impossible to relax. Pure relaxation for me is having a mental night out with friends where we can dance and drink and burn some of that parental anxiety, not lying on a bed discussing my skin and listening to New Age music.