The Little Things in Life

It’s the small and uncomplicated things in life that really contribute to happiness. The best moments I’ve had with my kids don’t involve fancy trips and expensive adventures. The times we’ve shared over a Popsicle or while feeding stale bread to ducks are the most meaningful to me. Some might describe those activities as mundane. Regardless, they work for me.

This notion of the ‘little things in life’ can be extended to several areas of my mama existence. After my washing machine recently broke down, I realized that nothing makes my life run more smoothly than a fully functioning washing machine. Quite frankly, I’d sacrifice almost anything to have a consistent and reliable method of washing clothes – whether it is the sacrifice of rare “me time”, the even rarer “date night”, or even the fully extinct “girls’ night out”. All those happenings are meaningless if I live among urine soaked bed sheets and school uniforms decorated with dried up and crusted on banana.

With so many humans living under one roof, it makes for a lot of laundry – two loads a day to be exact and that excludes the special contributions made by bed-wetters. A day off laundry compares to taking a holiday from work only to return and wonder why you even bothered. That first day back at the office you find yourself buried in e-mail and voicemail – the piles and files staring you down, taunting you. You don’t even know where to start and catching up seems like a daunting and impossible task. Such is a “laundry holiday” at my house.
The beloved washing machine started off seeming a bit under the weather. Immediate action needed to be taken because taking a ‘wait and see’ approach with large appliances is out of the question. I was facing a busy day of work meetings which forced me to delegate the operation to daddy-o. I assumed he’d know a guy who would call a guy who knows a guy, and then a guy would come to our house to fix it immediately.

Daddy-o let the power and responsibility go to his head and without consultation purchased a brand new washer and dryer. Did you get the ‘without consultation’ part? How about the part that mentions him buying a dryer to replace our perfect dryer? He then announced that the new appliances would be delivered… FIVE days! I can’t remember much about what happened next because I started hyper-ventilating and passed out.

Eventually I came to, the new washing machine (and dryer!) arrived and we were back on track. But during those five days, the kiddos discovered several new activities including burying each other in filthy towels and mountain climbing on a clothing mound of mess. Again, it is the little things in life, isn’t it?

Going to the Cottage

A few years ago, four women did something a few people thought was a bit loopy. I got together with three gals and we dropped out of our professions, cast aside our collective eight or so degrees and designations and started Mabel’s Labels. We also made another big decision and purchased a cottage together. Considering we were all having babies at the time, I like to blame the hormones.

I have fantastic childhood memories of summers at the cottage. When my siblings cooked up a plan that we should purchase a cottage together, I jumped at it. Memories of fishing off the dock, swimming out to the floating raft and roasting marshmallows around the campfire – all memories I wanted my children to have. Thing is, I should have paid more attention to what my mother was doing during those trips to the cottage. If I had, I might have noticed that going to the cottage is no holiday for mama.

My mom didn’t spend much time lounging in a Muskoka chair sipping a glass of red. When we were swimming, my mother stood anxiously on the shore counting heads (“one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four”). And as for those campfires – my nerves can’t handle seeing one more excited three-year-old waving a wand of flaming marshmallow in the direction of innocent bystanders.

Fact is, going to the cottage means mama has to do the same work but without all the conveniences of home. Suddenly we’re pulling out portocots, piling too many hyper kids into one room to sleep, and living without the safety devices that were created to make our lives easier. When will someone invent a toddler gate that goes around an entire lake? At our cottage, we don’t even have a shower or washing machine and dryer. I don’t mind the kids running around looking and smelling like forest animals, but if you have a bed-wetter or a tummy bug goes through the joint, it is game over.

I’m married to a non-Ontario type so with all the cottage talk a few years ago he made an interesting observation. It went like this:
“So, in Ontario people work really hard so they can afford to buy a place where they go and live like they have no money. Is that right?”

Bingo! Daddy-o was starting to understand cottage culture! Five years into cottage ownership, and we head north every chance we get. The cottage provides us with the opportunity to watch our kids run wild together, forgetting that TV and Nintendo even exist. We get to witness sibling camaraderie at its finest. So, even with all the head counting at the lake and marshmallow dodging at the campfire, this memory building is worth the hard work. I’ll have plenty of time to lounge in a Muskoka chair later.
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