Once, or even twice, during the summer, along comes a day when everything seems under control.
The laundry is done, the refrigerator and pantry shelves are fully stocked and the children have plans that will keep them busy. Then there is only one sensible thing for a mother to do -- run away. Take advantages of the temporary lull to do something strictly for yourself.
I had such a day recently. My oldest daugther called to cancel our lunch date. My middle daughter planned to put in six hours as a candystriper at the local hospital. My youngest daughter was spending the day with her best friend. My son was at a two-week day camp. My husband would be working late. And even the dog had settled comfortably in a shady spot.
By 9 a.m., I had completed a writing task, dinner was prepared, the table set, the children on their way. I was alone. I knew immediately that this was my day to run away. I also knew where I wanted to go -- to Coolfont Resort in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., an hour and a half and a world away.
I made two phone calls: To a friend at Coolfont for lunch and to the Berkeley Springs Bathhouse for an appointment for a Roman bath and massage.
All omens looked good. All signals said "Go," so I grabbed my bathing suit, a towel, the suntan oil and an Agatha Christie.
At Coolfont, I spread my blanket on the almost empty beach ($2 admittance) and read and dozed for awhile. I swam in the cool lake, hiked around it and met my friend for the special buffet lunch in Treetop Restaurant.
At 2, it was time for my Roman bath and massage, and by 3:30 I was back in my car, feeling relaxed and pampered. No one had even missed me. In fact, I was the first one back.
The next day was business as usual:
"Mom, we're out of peanut butter and dog food."
"Mom, my ear hurts real bad."
"Barb, good old Charlie and his family are in town and I invited them for dinner tonight."
"Mom, come quick, the washing machine's overflowing."
"The car's making funny noises."
"Could you volunteer to bake four dozen cookies for the PTA bake sale?"
"Could you drive me to the store?"
"The dog looks like he's got fleas."
I coped calmly and serenely (almost) -- and hugged to myself, like a secret chocolate bar, the memory of the day before. It had cost less than $20 --a good investment in mental health.