In the early days of my young motherhood, when my marriage was falling apart and life was an unending cycle of wailing and washing and vomit and sleepless nights, I used to dream of a special room for mothers. In that room, time would stop. There would be endless, quiet hours of darkness and unending cups of warm tea. In that room I would rock, and rest, and recharge against the chaotic and ceaseless cycle of my life.
I was so taken with this image that one night, sitting around a sacred fire with a squealing baby on my lap, I shared it. No sooner had I spoken than a young woman I’d never met before burst out: “I know that place!” She quickly blushed and silenced herself, but after the fire she approached me and she told me of a Korean spa she’d discovered, a place that for a small entrance fee entitled one to soak in warm mugwort baths and sweat in a salt sauna and sip endless barley tea and nap on a warmed jade floor. We set a date, I cashed in numerous babysitting favors, and when the day came I found myself in motherhood mecca.
I had never been to a spa before (I had walked past buildings labeled ‘day spa’, but they were so far out of my realm of experience that I vaguely thought they might have something to do with eyebrows.) My new friend led me into a steaming room filled with laughing naked women. I spent six hours sweating and soaking and scrubbing and sleeping on the jade floor and writing in my journal, and my life was changed forever. Continue reading