The Facial


We all need someone to schedule us a facial.  Seriously….we do, for many reasons.  As a working mom of three very active children, I seldom take the time to do something that pampers me just because I feel like it.  So when my mother called a few weeks ago to tell me she had bought me a facial session as a “love gift”, I was overjoyed.  When she informed me she had scheduled it for me, I was surprised.  And when she ordered me to show up and “do not even think about cancelling and embarassing me”, I replied, “Yes, ma’am.”  Sometimes, the wisest thing we can do at any age is to obey our mother.  Remember that.

The day of my facial started with our usual morning chaos of kids, breakfast, backpacks, last-minute signatures on journals/notes/permission slips and the additional, “Honey, could you also…..” that ensues any day I am not headed to work.  Because the one day a week I have to pull off laundry, grocery shopping, house cleaning, errands and any personal appointments surely needs the addition of a 20 page honey-do list to be complete.  After all, I’m “off”, right?  But, I digress.

Suffice it to say, by the time I made it to the salon, I was cranky, frazzled and tense.  As I filled out the form for new clients (which may have actually been longer than the application for U.S. citizenship), the aesthetician asked how long it had been since my last facial.  Seriously?  I have no idea.  I’m pretty sure I was pregnant with my youngest child (who is three and a half years old).  So I tempered a bit with a hesitant, “Two years?”. This earned me an alarmed look, rapid eye blinking and disapproving clucks. Being the eager-to-please consumer that I am, I immediately began apologizing and rationalizing my way through an explanation.  Sometimes, I really am pitiful.  Luckily, the lovely facialist did not seem inclined to hold a grudge, so after I changed into my strapless robe/towel combo and climbed onto the bed/table/thing, she returned and my spa experience commenced.

There was soft music and dim lights and subtle fragrances.  My face was being rubbed with cleansers and whatnot.  No demands.  No kids or dog or husband.  No questions.  No cell phone – I had even remembered to turn off the ringer.  Sigh….My mind wandered for about 30 seconds before returning to the ringer-free phone.  Crap.  What if school calls and can’t get ahold of me?  We all know emergencies and injuries always happen when you are out of pocket.  I mean, sure, it’s only an hour, but to a kid with a broken arm, that’s an eternity!  How sad would that be, if one of my darlings was sitting abandoned in the nurse’s office – scared, in pain, having to wait because Mommy is too busy getting a facial to answer her phone?  And, can you imagine the disgust on the part of the school staff when they discover the reason it took me so long to answer?  I’ll be a mommy pariah!  The whispers, the rumors….how superficial can one woman be?  No one will care that I do this at a frequency of, like, three times a decade.  The point is, I was doing it today!  What about trying to explain myself to the ER staff?  Oh, the horror!

Yes, I actually have the capability to be this neurotic.  Leave it to me to turn a spa treatment into a full-blown emergency + CPS case.

I managed to control my ever-rising panic and talk myself off that particular ledge.  After all, their dad has a phone, too.

I lay there, eyes closed, as I was cleansed, scrubbed, masked, exfoliated, extracted <- let’s talk about that for a moment, shall we?  All those years we spent as teenagers being admonished not mash on blemishes and blackheads….were they a lie?  Was it all part of yet another test of obedience and control?  Or do you need a professional to do the honors for it to be okay?  It’s not the most pleasant of experiences, let me tell you.  Still, afterwards there were more soothing masks and moisturizers ,and even a brief hand massage.  Oh yes.  Hand massage.

Once the “All done!” came through, I timidly asked if my skin/face was truly shameful and beyond repair (it did feel like a lot of extractions, after all).  Much to my relief, she assured me that mine was “no worse than anyone else’s, really.  It just needed quite a thorough cleansing.  And a LOT of exfoliating.  I mean, a LOT.”  Ok, I get it.  She handed me a mirror, and after a fleeting moment of hesitation (surely all the mashing had left blotches), I glimpsed my reflection.  Amazingly, I was blotch and redness free!  My face looked relaxed.  My skin was clear and glowing.  I even felt like there were fewer fine lines.  Phenomenal!  My skin felt softer and smoother than it had in, well, three and a half years!

As I marvelled at this on my drive home, vowing to take better care of my face in the future….I was struck by this thought:  Isn’t this what life is like?  We rush and scurry and overschedule and overwork, neglecting our maintenance and rest in the name of busyness or doing something more important.  And there are so many important things to do.  Good things.  Necessary things.  Yet, every now and again we need to stop, lie down and figure out what needs a good cleaning….and where we need to perform extractions.  Are there negative thoughts or emotions or relationships clogging our hearts and weighing down our souls?  Are we dried out and in need of spiritual refreshment?  Are we so worn down that given a magnifying mirror of truth we would be shocked at who we’ve become and how we’ve changed?  If we don’t take time off for self-reflection and repair, we increase the speed with which we become lost, sliding down a slippery slope of frustrated exhaustion.

God’s will is not for us to live exhausted.  He wants to provide us with rest and renewal.  To offer us a hand, a shoulder, a foundation to lean on.  He promises to provide strength for the weary and respite for the broken.  And He gives us His word as well as relationships with His other children to help us along the way.  So make yourself a promise – that you will find some time and energy for yourself so you can be refreshed.  And reach out to someone, encouraging her to do the same.  Schedule her a facial if you have to.

Solidarity, sisters.  We all deserve to glow from the inside out.

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