Monday, March 9, 2009

Lavender for Labour

Ophelia had 'Rue for Remembrance' I had lavender for labour. A lovely lavender aromatherapy bath when I was in labour with my 1st born. And as we know the olfactory senses have more power to evoke memories than any of the other senses.

So I am entering a Mother's Day blogging competition. The 1st 20 entries will win a bottle of Mamababybliss 'Ooh' Lavender bath soak. They sell products for pregnant women, new mums, and also babies. I haven't done anything like this before, but hey ho it's a Monday morning, my daughter is sick in bed, and the brief is to think of a time when you pampered yourself and to write about it. So I am enjoying reminiscing.

I was prompted to think about this because yesterday was Women's Day here in Albania (yes I live in Albania now) and it's a really big deal here. And believe me the women in Albania need pampering, they do ALL the work & more. Really. I spent it looking after 5 children & feeding 5 hungery men after their training ride for a charity bike ride they're doing. So all in all I could relate to the idea of needing a little pampering....

Here it is:

Birthday, beer cake & balloons.

(This was my attempt at having a pampering day on my birthday. About the best I could do whilst living in Sri Lanka. )

“It was my birthday yesterday. I had to supervise my own card making by the children, such is a mother's lot when it comes to birthdays. Supervise, spell, not to mention draw my own picture & write my own good wishes (if my daughter had had her way) whilst at the same time NOT looking at the drawings and feigning surprise on my birthday. My son decided all this needed to be done about 5 minutes before bath time the night before my birthday. I think there was a hidden agenda there.

He asked what number to write on his card to me. When I told him he said "Wow that IS old" Not a good start. I said "It sounds old, but it's not really that old is it?" He thought for a minute, then said "Actually it is really". I said,
"Old means having grey hair and wrinkles".
He said "What are wrinkles?" I explained. He said "Oh yes you have some of those, and your hair makes you look older."
Right then, obviously long and blond (natural) is out, am I really the age where I have to get a sensible middle-aged bob?

I much prefer the exchange I had with a girl from Essex, I think, at someone else's birthday on Sunday. We had the dreaded "So how old are you?" conversation. Everyone admitted they were 32, 33 or 34. Then she asked me. When I reluctantly told her, 41, she said, with disconcerting directness; "Cor blimey, I am so shocked. You've got no wrinkles' (I have, it was a candlelit meal. And besides, my son tells me I have)
Then she said, "So what cream do you use?" which I considered a real coup. No one has ever asked me that before. But then she made me feel ancient again by looking at me as if I was a still living survivor of the Titanic and said to me,
"Wow, so you were born in the sixties!!"

I could have said, yes but I don't remember them, but then isn't that what everyone from the sixties says??

I went to my mums' group on the morning of my birthday, which I go to every Thursday, a highlight of my week, and got kissed exactly 15 times. This is because there were five Dutch there. The Dutch really know how to kiss. They do it a lot, and always on your birthday. They also always kiss on both cheeks. And then once more on the 1st cheek. It took quite a long time as you can imagine. Being British I rather envied them their cultural confidence.

They seem to know exactly when to kiss, who to kiss, which cheek to start with and how many to give. It must be written in a book somewhere. I, however, never know who, when, where to kiss. Those moments always leave me slightly anxious. Weighing up how well you know someone, how long since you last saw them, whether it will be misconstrued etc.

I wish someone could enlighten me. But then a Dutch friend said to me that in church people she barely knew would come up and greet her with 3 kisses. Always non-Dutch. I think it was because people assumed that because she was Dutch it was the cultural norm to kiss her like that. It's not.

The 2nd possibility is that she has a "come kiss me"air about her. Who knows? So I guess it has its advantages being British and reserved. Unless you like random strangers kissing you.

An English friend arrived bearing red, white and blue balloons. Unfortunately this being Sri Lanka, and an average of 34' all the time, the balloons expanded (already fully blown up) & burst one by one over the course of the morning, nearly sending one of the mums, 33 weeks pregnant, into premature labour.

My friend also brought along a chocolate, beer cake. Not Nigella's, though a familiar concept for us Brits. The Dutch and Americans amongst us seemed strangely disconcerted. It was yummy, even if it wasn't stout, but whatever Sri Lanka had to hand. Usually only lager. I must ask her what she used. We ate half the cake, and my family polished off the other half by 5 o clock that evening.

My husband treated me to a massage at "The Sanctuary" in Colombo for my birthday. Sadly not "The Sanctuary" of Covent Garden fame, but nevertheless, about as good as it gets in Sri Lanka. i.e. proper massage beds, trained staff, lotus flowers floating in granite bowels of water, air con, warm towels, soothing music. Green tea in a coconut bowl to drink afterwards. I was happy! The best service I have had anywhere in Sri Lanka.

The shock, of course, is walking out of this calm, soothing haven back into the dust, pollution, humidity & crazy traffic that is Colombo.

To mix the metaphors further, it was a Swedish massage. This refers to the strength and style of the massage, rather than the nationality of the masseuse. Mine certainly wasn't tall and blond... Shame.

It was blissfully relaxing and not at all painful, unlike Thai massages when I have been walked on, elbowed, had all my joints yanked to 'click' them etc. This one I had to struggle to stay awake. I didn't want to fall asleep and miss it.....

I needed to maximise my pampering experience. I’d probably have to wait at least a year before the next one.”


Wife in Hong Kong said...

What a great post: more me time!

fraught mummy said...

Hope you win - sounds like you deserve it!

I just stumbled across your blog and enjoy it very much. I'm a British Mum of 2 young kids also from Oxford but now based in Bosnia, so emphasise with you a lot. Beloved Oxford (oh so beautiful). Also without a network of other Mum's here, few expats and finding it to be, occasionally, oh so lonely. But hey ho. Anyway, just to say please keep on blogging. It's great for me to know there's another blogging British Balkan Mummy out there.

fraught mummy said...

Of course I meant empathise not emphasise. End of the day. Dinner was on the stove. Brain cell overworked. Kids screaming. You know how it is....

Lavender said...

I love your writing style! Lavender baths and relaxing massages - what could be better :)

Iota said...

I wonder if that lavender-labour connection means that you now still love lavender, or whether the memory is too mixed.