June 22, 2016
Moms with seriously ill children have a lot to worry about and taking care of themselves is usually low on their priority list. Michelle Palmer knows this firsthand, which is why she volunteers her time once a month to pamper moms staying at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto. The owner of Toronto’s Pause Beauty Boutique, Michelle and her team give full spa manicures and hand massages to anyone who signs up on their visits.
“Taking a little time for yourself can make a huge difference,” says Michelle, speaking from experience.
“For the first two years of my daughter’s life, we were at SickKids with her every week. She had three surgeries before her second birthday and we would’ve needed to stay at the House if we didn’t live so close,” she says.
“I consider my daughter’s situation a lot less stressful than most of the families staying here, but I find that women are more willing to open up to me knowing that I’ve walked those hospital halls as well.”
Referring to herself as a “stand-in girlfriend,” Michelle is used to clients confiding in her at her spa. The same thing happens at the House.
“There’s an element of trust we place on an esthetician, and human touch creates a sense of intimacy,” says Michelle. “I find that many moms are willing – almost wanting – to talk about their situation with another adult who is not their spouse. That is so important. I know how taxing illness can be on a relationship.”
RMHC Toronto is Pause Beauty’s chosen charitable partner, and Michelle holds “parties” every quarter to raise money for the families she meets during her visits. The next one is on July 6 from 5 to 8 p.m. The event will have eyebrow makeovers, a complimentary wine bar, pizza, door prizes and lots of fun for children. Michelle is proud to support an organization she believes in so strongly.
“Our industry is seen as being fairly trivial and superficial, so it’s nice to find a way to use our talents for good,” says Michelle. “There’s an unspoken camaraderie between parents with sick children and it’s awesome to be able to give back to women I can relate to.”
As for the manicures themselves, "by far the most popular colour choices are anything bright - anything uplifting," she says. "Sometimes moms choose their sick child's favourite colour, which is very sweet, or no colour at all if their baby is in the NICU. I have yet to meet a mom who was concerned with trendy colours or styles. They are all just so grateful to be able to have a moment for themselves that the details often don't seem to matter."