This post is about an extraordinary night. If this happened all the time I wouldn’t be writing about it. Like you, I’m generally in 6 places at once with barely enough time for basic life tasks. Please don’t get the wrong idea – I’m not mom of the year – I’m just really grateful.
There are no pictures in this post. No pictures because what I’m sharing is such a sacred private moment with my children that I almost can’t bear to write about it. Yet here I am.
I share this night with you – not to externalize a special moment, but to bring it into your consciousness, and maybe even into your homes.
I was out tonight until past ten o’clock. When I got home four of the kids were still up. My high schooler was stressed out, the others were okay but they hadn’t seen me all day and were feeling it. We were talking, and I looked at my daughter and the exhaustion in her eyes. Then from the heavens some words came out of my mouth.
“You know what you need? You need a mud mask.”
“A mud mask?”
She’d never had one.
“I want one!”
“Ok, go lay down on the couch…”
I turned out the lights.
“Levi, put on some spa music.”
And we began. After a minute of quiet, the kids started laughing and jostling. I sent them out. My throat clenched. Couldn’t this just be a beautiful moment?
I tried to see their laughter as beautiful, but I knew my daughter needed the quiet.
In a moment for which I’m forever grateful , I put away the words “If you’re not quiet, you won’t get a turn.” And pulled out a grin so wide, I felt like a nursery school teacher;
“Kids, lets give her a really special time!” I whispered. “Everybody out, and I’ll call you in when it’s your turn.
And so we began – again.
One by one, I called the kids in, painted Ahava mud creme on their faces and had them lay very still as it dried. The cream was old, the music was from youtube – but it was all perfect.
After I finished with their faces I gave the girls a henna tattoo, and the others hand and foot massages.
One by one, they fell asleep.
One by one, I fell in love again.
One by one, I reclaimed the gift of touch.
My child with depression had tears twinkling in her eyes. Her emotions run deep and the touch set them free.
Afterwards, I brought in a bowl of warm water and washed each of their faces. They stayed mostly asleep – eyes flickering open for a quick thank you.
Bringing the washcloth over their faces was like taking care of a newborn for the first time. How long has it been since I’ve done that? Really tended to them?
These kids are not babies, they’re 11,12, 14 and 16. They can do things themselves. And yet, sometimes we all need a little more. Watching them sleep, they looked to me less like children, and more like weary warriors. They don’t have the kind of carefree life that childhood once evoked.
Never have mud- smeared faces looked so angelic. As with all giving, I know that as much as they got out of it I got more. They restored my spirit.
This post is not just about children and touch. Not long ago we had a girls night at WOW and I gave some girls henna tattoos while the guitar played. I love all my WOW girls, but in those moments, when I painted henna on their arms, I grew to love them deeply. We bonded beyond words.
We need touch. Healthy, nurturing, non sexual touch. Touch that reminds us that we are a treasure.
When I was growing up, my grandfather would come with his gentle, strong hands and give me a shoulder rub while I sat waiting for the challah at the Shabbos table. So small a thing, and I only saw him twice a year, yet I can still feel his hands today.
Men need touch too. In our synagogue, and in some parts of our community, men give a quick – or sometimes not quick hug in greeting. It’s healthy, not weird. And a shoulder rub never goes out of style.
Married couples need it too. In a way that sets up no expectations for anything more.
We’re all weary warriors in our own way.
Try it, and watch what happens.