This is my happy place.
I am one of the lucky people who married into an amazing family who also happen own a cottage up in Muskoka, north of Toronto. I’ve spent a good part of every summer up there for 12 years now, loving the company of family and friends, enjoying the lake and the woods we’re surrounded by, and just generally appreciating something I never had access to, growing up.
Honestly, this is a place, a privilege, I never want to take for granted.
This is the view I’ve had, as I sang opera arias to my future in-laws. I got married just down the road. I soothed my aching, pregnant body in that lake one summer, and introduced my newborn to the fragrant air during another summer. I’ve hosted parties and cleaned up afterward. And I’ve watched my mother- and father-in-law care for this second home of theirs with their unique brand of determination, wishing I could do more to help.
It’s hard having your hands full with young kids, feeling exhausted, but wanting to help all the same. My in-laws are wonderful, giving people, the last ones to burden someone already struggling with yet more work. I see them becoming more fragile as they age, though, and I feel compelled to pitch in more, help whenever possible, to make things easier for them.
My husband has been on the same wavelength as me, doing exactly that even before his parents opened the cottage for the season. While they were away, he drove to the cottage to prepare it for opening, clearing the roof of leaves and debris, raking the gravel, clearing branches that had fallen over the winter. He had to keep the whole affair a secret until after he’d come home, because they would never have allowed him to do it, had he asked. That’s what I mean when I say they don’t want to burden others.
Me? I’ll be helping in other ways, this summer. One of the only truly annoying things about the cottage is how expensive the staples are to buy locally. And when you’re hosting friends and family on a rotating basis, the cost and volume of those staples is actually pretty significant. I plan to take a trip to one of the members’ club stores to buy large quantities of paper towels, soap, and toilet paper.
One new discovery I’m excited to introduce at our cottage is the new Arm & Hammer 3-in-1 Power Paks, for laundry. I’ve been using these at home for a month now, and not only are they effective on smelly, dirty kids’ clothes, but they are cost-effective as well. Like, two thirds the price of your average detergent. Which is exactly like shopping at one of those members’ club stores!
My favourite part about the Arm & Hammer Laundry 3-in-1 Power Paks is the fact that I will never have to deal with a heavy, unwieldy, leaky jug of detergent, ever again. These little packs (Paks? Do I have to call them that when I refer to them? It certainly looks cuter.) fit in your hand or in their little resealable bag, and nothing leaks out. I could leave a giant container of 48 at home, and only bring up 4 little Paks to the cottage with me, in a tiny baggie, and I would be able to do 4 loads of laundry! This is a revelation, to me. Especially when I have a bunch of kids and their bajillion clothes and toys to pack as well. Making it all fit is key.
Obviously, this isn’t all I’m going to be doing to help at the cottage. Meals, cleaning, whatever else I can manage to pry away from my mother- and father-in-law. Because they deserve to relax a bit, this summer. And because I don’t ever want to take this place (or my in-laws) for granted.