Yesterday was Mother’s Day, a day to celebrate all the hard work we do as moms. When I was gearing up to celebrate my first Mother’s Day 7 years ago, I had visions of breakfast in bed, tear-jerking Hallmark cards, and lavish gifts, all orchestrated by my attentive husband who would stop at nothing to show me how greatly he appreciated my mastery of all things maternal. Sadly, I can’t seem to remember that first Mother’s Day or how much (or how little) appreciation my husband showed. But I can say that my expectations have lowered significantly in the last 7 years. These days, I’m just happy if my husband is home for Mother’s Day.
This year Mr. Roller Coaster was indeed home (although I’m not quite sure he remembered it was M-Day). Because he was home, I was able to get the only other thing I wanted: a massage. I wanted 90 minutes to myself. I wanted to clear my head while someone else kneaded all my stress away. I wanted peace and quiet. Ironically, what I wanted most for Mother’s Day was to not
be a mom for a little while.
I was early for my appointment, and the receptionist led me to the “relaxation room” to wait for my massage therapist. She handed me a bottle of water and left me alone in this room where the only sound was waves crashing. Finally, I had my 90 minutes. I was free to relax. There were no children calling my name. There was no computer coaxing me to start that article I need to write. There was no dinner to be cooked, no to-do lists to procrastinate on, no lesson plans to be planned. I had nothing to do but sit and breathe and exist.
It took all of about 3 minutes for me to discover that I couldn’t just sit and breathe and exist. I’m so accustomed to constantly thinking that I had no idea where my pause button was. I couldn’t turn my brain off!
There I was, sitting in this room of relaxation doing anything but relaxing as I attempted to contain a mountain of random brain vomit. What would my next blog post be about? Don’t forget to write those thank you notes. Did I text what’s her name back? Remember to add carrots to your shopping list. Why didn’t I bring a book? You need to start brainstorming ideas for that article. What time is it? Don’t know, I left my watch at home. Am I prepared for work tomorrow? I wonder what the weather will be like this week.
My brain kept going and going. It wouldn’t be still. And as I sat there in the relaxation room listening to waves crashing, I realized I was not only incapable of shutting my brain off, but the mere thought of not thinking practically induced an anxiety attack. Is it possible I have no idea how to completely relax?
I was relieved when my massage therapist called my name and allowed me to leave the non-relaxing relaxation room. I wish I could say my brain took a nap during the massage, but it didn’t. Like an elephant in the room, I couldn’t not think about not thinking. But at least I was able to turn down the volume and allow my body to enjoy the massage.
Plus the experience did lead to the following existential discussion with Mr. Roller Coaster later in the day:
ME: “Are you able to not think?”
MR. RC: “Yes.”
ME: “What do you think about when you’re trying not to think?”
MR. RC: “Nothing.”
ME: “How do you think about nothing?”
MR. RC: “By not thinking.”
Gee, thanks honey. That was very enlightening.
Are you able to turn your brain off? If so, how do you do it?