after two years and a few months of full time 'mommying', i finally gave myself permission to take a day off...an entire day, 28 hours to be exact...and i spent that day at one of my favorite places in one of my favorite little towns on earth (or, at least in california): indian springs in calistoga. the day began, as every day should, with mud...thick, warm, silky-soft mud...and it only got better from there. after my soak, steam, and scrub, i proceeded to spend the rest of the day poolside. olympic-sized and filled with warm mineral water, the pool at indian springs is not your average pool, but a nearly mystical experience. so, as i floated...rendered weightless not only by the mineral content in the water but also, i believe, by pure giddy joy at being alone...layers of tension and holding from all those hours (about 19,608 hours to be exact) of being 'on', slowly began to melt from my mind and body one by one. oh, and did i happen to mention that i was all by myself; as in ALONE???
indian springs has always been a mini mecca for me, and i have returned there to soak and steam and float many times over the past ten years or so. in fact, the pool there has become a kind of 'holding pond' at various times through my life for lots of grief and sadness but also for lots of joy and celebration, too. it is the first place i think of when i'm going through a major life transition...a place where i seek refuge...and i've gone there to soak during and after significant break ups, make ups, and break downs; for my 'baby moon' when i was 39 weeks pregnant and bursting at the seams (ah, the bliss of being gravity-free!); as well as on the morning of my wedding day.
and, this time was no different from the others...i went seeking refuge, to be held through yet another transition in the 'arms' of that healing mud and water...and it was delightful. after so many hours, days, weeks, and months of being at anothers' beck and call...which is what full time, stay at home parenting is...i had finally arrived at a place where there was nowhere to go and nothing left to get done. in otherwords: paradise. and, the powerful sense of spaciousness i experienced was like opening all the windows and doors of my mind and body...like airing out rooms, dusting off shelves, shedding light into the shadows of every corner...and i was rejuvenated. the fact that it took two years to get there...to were i felt like i could take a break and walk away...only served to intensify the pleasure of the day.
so, while it was a long time coming, and arguably could have happened sooner...and definitely should happen more often...i tried to not let that diminish this major milestone and accomplishment; letting go and taking some space. as any mother can tell you...and, perhaps fathers, too...it isn't always easy to wrangle back a little bit of the energy you've dedicated to having children in order to create some breathing room for yourself. but, once it's done, and then hopefully becomes a practice, the benefits of a little solitude...of taking some time to yourself in a place of refuge...ripples outward. and, even though they're tiny, those ripples are mighty, magical, medicinal...sustaining you in your work of parenting...and perhaps one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family.
in short, it was a perfect day...long and slow and nowhere to go...and i (re)learned something powerful not only about taking space but also about relaxing and letting go. and, just for the record, despite my somewhat neurotic imaginings to the contrary, i returned home after my 28 hours of blissful solitude and everybody was just fine (note to self...).