Don’t get me wrong: I love my children. Being a mother has been—hands down—the greatest miracle of my life. I was born to do it, I wholly embrace it, I am thankful every single day that I am a full-time, stay-at-home mom.
My twenty-year-old self would fall over laughing at what I now consider a spa moment. Not a trip to an actual spa, mind you, but a trip to the grocery store without my kids. Ten minutes alone in my car, blasting Carrie Underwood instead of Music Together. Any appointment, however banal, that I can attend unencumbered by Goldfish crackers and Wet Wipes. The dentist, the gynecologist, jury duty. The opportunity to sit on a couch that is not being jumped on, in a room that I will never have to vacuum, reading back issues of US Weekly.
So you can imagine my glee at discovering I needed a tonsillectomy. “Two weeks of down time,” my ENT warned me. “A week of pain followed by a week of exhaustion.”
“No problem,” I told her smugly. I knew from pain; I’d birthed three children. I’d been exhausted since 2003. But two weeks of down time? Two WEEKS? Of DOWN TIME? DOCTOR’S ORDERS??? This was a Christmas present beyond comprehension.
On December 27th, as soon as my husband and kids had ushered me into the waiting room of the short-term surgery unit and I’d donned my official hospital bracelet, I waved them away. “I’ll be fine,” I said firmly, hugs all around. “I love you. I’ll see you in a few hours.”
“Are you sure, Mama?” my five-year-old asked. “You don’t want us to wait?”
“No, no,” I said, self-sacrificing mother that I am. “Go have some fun.”
And did I enjoy every pre-operative, trashy magazine reading, trashy TV watching, hairnet and johnny wearing, lounging on my gurney all by my lonesome moment? Yes, I did. When the anesthesiologist put me under, I babbled about college. I woke to a delightful white haze of smiling nurses and cranberry juice. I could have been on the beach. My husband was late to pick me up. No worries. More cranberry juice. More pain medication. Door-to-door wheelchair service from recovery room to car. I felt like a queen.
For two days, I was a queen. I lay on my flannel-sheeted throne, hopped up on Vicodin and Haagen-Dazs, watching movies and devouring the new book I’d gotten for Christmas. My husband and children were magically absent, off to gymnastics, out to lunch, on a bike ride. My Queendom was a sanctum. A sacred place. A place of quiet, and tranquility, and ice water.
And then . . . Day Three.
I woke to a throat so sore and a headache so severe I thought I might literally be dying. “We’ll get out of the house,” my husband assured me. “Right away. Let you rest.”
What happened next is too gory and pathetic to describe, other than to say that I spent the entire day doing the opposite of what I was supposed to be doing. Instead of hydrating, I was barfing. Instead of resting, I was crawling back and forth from bed to bathroom, bed to bathroom, blubbering like a baby. What can we do? My husband kept texting. What do you need? What can we pick up? Pain medication wasn’t helping. Ice cream wasn’t helping. Nothing was helping.
Which is when it hit me, of course, what I needed. It was so simple. There were only two words to text back. Come home.
It’s funny, isn’t it—how the thing you wish for more than anything isn’t what you need in the end? How when the nausea subsides and the dust settles all you really want is to be back where you were to begin with? On the couch in your very own living room, with your children in your arms, dripping popsicles everywhere?
Open your eyes. Feel the spa moment. Happy New Year, everyone.