I've done everything from being a school Room Mother, Art Mother and Cub Scout Den Mother to being a CCD teacher to save their moral souls. To let the youngest play soccer as a kindergartener, I signed up to be the assistant coach, and was subsequently harassed by a mother who yelled at me and once chased me off the field. (I never coached after that.) I taught son #1 to drive a stick shift and #3 how to sneak out of the house without Wingman knowing. When son #2 wrestled in high school, I even practiced with him. I may not have been the best mom, but I feel I was the best I could be while still working full-time and keeping the Alpha Dad from killing his increasingly assertive sons. Yes, there were days when as the only female in the house I muttered under my breath that I was surrounded by dicks, but I wouldn't trade those days for the world. Well, maybe most of the days. I've also been to court with them for driving infractions that they were convinced didn't pertain to them. The courts said they were wrong.
While I was visiting him in Korea last month, son #1 took me out twice to spend some quality time alone with him. The first night, we went to a pub to play darts. The beer was icy cold, the music classic rock, and beginners luck had me beating him until the last round.
Two nights later, we went for a massage. Since things there are always slightly different than I'm use to in America, I relied on him to tell me what to do. First, I changed into their standard-issue tee shirt and gym shorts and joined him for a foot soak. Then, two women came and put us in the same treatment room which was a little disturbing since Wingman and I never had a massage together. He was having a leg massage so he hopped onto his table belly up. I chose the back massage so I went face down. I listened as he talked to them in Korean, and occasionally he would translate something my masseuse wanted me to do. What he didn't translate was that this was no ordinary massage-it was a deep tissue. You know when you exercise and you get that pain from stretching that makes you say "WOWWWWWWWW...that hurts"? Imagine that, let's say...times a thousand.
When I heard him grunt, I thought of picking my head up to see what his babe was doing over there, but mine was trying to start a fire on my back with the friction of rubbing the fabric so hard. She shot off a staccato statement and I heard my son question "Weh?" (Why?) Since her thumb was at that precise moment trying to gouge my brain out of my skull, I couldn't even begin to wonder what she asked him.
I found out. "Mom, she wants you to take off your shirt."
"I am not taking my shirt off in front of you. No freaking way". This said very un-Mom like and with fear in my voice. I had recently looked at an old issue of National Geographics and an image of the women in Papua New Guinea popped into my head. I didn't want him to have the same image of me.
"Mom, I've seen breasts before. The baby was nursed you know."
I sighed. Yes, his daughter was nursed, and I nursed him...28 years ago. That still didn't justify me going topless for our bonding experience.
"Please Mom. I promise. I'll keep my eyes shut."
With my face still deep in the massage table hole, I allowed her to remove my tee shirt, and I quickly pressed my arms to my sides, so no boob flesh could be seen in case he lied and opened his eyes. Then, like Hulk Hogan over Andre The Giant, she was on me-elbows, forearms, hands, fingers and knuckles grinding every knot and muscle into a pulverized mess. Stars were shooting from my fingertips as she made her way along my shoulders and arms. I found myself doing the only thing to make me forget pain: Lamaze Breathing. (Hee, Hee, Hee, Hee, Hoo....) And then it got worse.
She pulled down my shorts.
She got a butt cheek in her hands and she ohmygodohmygod I don't know what she was doing. My leg was shaking on it's own like a dog having it's belly rubbed, only mine was from a nerve in my hip that she was trying to massacre. I bit down on the towel under my head. This was definitely the longest hour of my life.
I'm sure I lost consciousness at some point but I came out of my coma as she worked on my left shoulder-the one that has been giving me trouble for a while. It's been bad enough that I can't lay on my left side, much less roll over and sleep on it. I felt what seemed like two bones being ground together, and she ignored my "OWW,OWW,OWW,OWW,SHIT" and brought me to tears.
Then finally, it was over.
She pulled up my drawers, and my son promised that his eyes were still closed as I put my top back on. My Little Shop of Horrors Hostess told him there were adhesions on my ligaments which were causing my pain. I wanted to say, "NO, IT WAS YOU, YOU SADIST, YOU DID IT." but instead, I smiled and said "Kamsahamnida." Thanks for the most painful experience of my life.
We went back to their apartment, and the three of us had fried chicken and Korean pizza-topped with sweet potatoes, not tomatoes. I drank copious amounts of water, soda and wine to remove the toxins I knew from American massages would be now running rampant in my body like prisoners on a jail break.
36 hours after the massage, I was on a plane headed home. 13 hours in the air, then a bus to a train to a car. Finally, I was back in my own home, in my own bed.
And surprisingly, for the first time in months, I fell asleep on my left side with no pain at all.