I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I’m short on time, money, and good hair days. But what I miss most about my pre-child life are the blessed moments of utter self-absorption. Apparently when I was groggy after giving birth, I must have signed some legal documents that obligated me to spend my waking (and sleeping) moments worrying about a little critter before myself. So what if I want to read just one more paragraph in my book? Tough. Someone NEEDS to have a sock put on a foot. Just one. The other absolutely has to remain barefoot. Long to eat re-heated leftovers for lunch while catching up on last night’s episode of Lost? Too bad. Someone MUST have one more lick of apricot jam. On the big-person’s spoon. Held in the left hand.
I’ve discovered one fail-safe location to recapture some of my lost self-absorption: the shower. When I’ve delegated responsibility for my one-sock-wearing daughter to my husband, I am suddenly, blissfully freed from the obligations of entertaining or parenting, and I can slip back into my own worries, like how much of a liar my bathroom scale is today, or if my newly-hatched crows feet wrinkles are maybe just a lighting trick. Sometimes, I can even sneak and read a whole page of my book. Once I’m in the shower, I can seal my head in the prickling streams of water and block out the guilt of knowing my daughter is keeping vigil right outside the bathroom door.
I’ve come to enjoy my me/shower time so much that I recently wheedled my way into an uncharacteristically indulgent bath product: Pré de Provence’s Bath & Shower Gel. So great is my love for this French brand and my shower freedom that I boldly peeled off the $14.99 pricetag and pumped away. I should note that I feel somewhat justified in spending this much money on 8.8 ounces of gel that immediately gets washed down the drain, because for the last eleven months, I have forgone the alluring displays of Dove and Olay body wash in the Target aisles and instead opted to follow my frugal (skinflint?) husband’s lead and have used bar soap that’s barely considered name brand and comes in the cheapest bulk discounts. In times of great desperation, he’s been known to stockpile the freebie hotel soaps and use them. Surely these sacrifices warrant one indulgence.
I first discovered the Pré de Provence line a few Valentine’s Days ago shortly after my husband and I returned from a long stay in Provence. We both felt a permanent loss of those things uniquely Provence: thick pungent olive oils, sun-baked rocky soil, sunflowers lazily nodding their heads, and yes, fields of lavender that release an otherworldly intoxicating scent. In an attempt to recapture the alluring olfactory delights of this incomparable countryside, my husband tracked down a hand moisturizer imported from Provence through one of my favorite local stores, Roxanne’s Dried Flowers. Knowing that I love every last flower petal and bar of soap offered in this store, he was pretty much guaranteed a hit. I managed to hoard the last squeezes of my lavender heaven until just a few months ago. (Luckily for me, another opportune tube arrived for Valentine’s Day this year.) The secret to Pré de Provence’s success seems to lie in their committment to adding essential oils to their products and subtracting all the things we don’t want: Parabens, Ethyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, and DEA. According to Bon Savon’s website, “Pré de Provence scents are the closest you can get to the original smell of each particular ingredient used.” Makes sense. My Pré de Provence 20% Shea Butter Hand Cream comes closer to the original smell of Provençal lavender than anything else I’ve discovered, including stuffing pure lavender sachets up my nose.
My love affair now continues with another Pré de Provence product: Bath and Shower Gel in Milk scent. Granted, I can love anything in my solitary shower, even flaky soap from a Red Roof Inn, but now I can lather up my shower puff with something a little more luxurious. The scent in this particular Pré de Provence offering is much, much more subtle than the unmistakable lavender. When I sniff my skin throughout the day (weird, I know, but my only audience is a 16-month-old, and what does she know?), I catch whiffs of clean baby scent. Not the noxious fake baby powder smell but something more elusive and true. It’s a comforting reminder that for at least a few moments that morning, I shoved my head under water, shut out the world, and indulged in some good ol’ self-absorption.
Pick up your own tube of lavender hand cream or milk shower gel through one of my favorite online importers of all things French, The Frenchy Bee. To catch a whiff of lavender fields in person, book yourself a week at our favorite Provençal hideaway.