Two Days To Perspective

A friend of the family was kind enough to share their lakeside cottage with us. On Monday night I left work, hit the grocery store, and made the two hour drive to our quiet retreat in the woods. Well, it was quiet before I arrived with three of my boys ages 7, 8 and 10.

Along the way the boys asked me to explain how a cottage was different from a house. I struggled to answer that one – it’s smaller? Usually on the water or near a resort area? According to my definition was pretty accurate. But it missed the whole point. I should have said a cottage is where we reconnect with each other and make new memories. A cottage is the perfect place to spend two days. A cottage is a place where towels NEVER air dry and the mosquitoes, as large as bats, are bred to attack us city folks.

Over the next two days we hiked, we fished, we braved the too cold water to swim. We made fun shaped chocolate chip pancakes and we marveled at the view. We saw wild fox, and carefree deer. Just two hours away and traffic jams were a distant memory and email was impossible to download.

My favorite part of the whole trip was story time around the campfire. Hopped up on smores and the fresh air, we sat in a circle and told funny stories. I was charmed as my children recalled how we burst into laughter the time Nicky exploded a creamer and it shot all over his face. Or how relieved we were to hear the nurses laugh when after Johnny’s emergency c-section he peed on the staff, or how Derick gave everyone the giggles at dinner with an endearing rendition of Buffalo Cow – don’t worry, we don’t really know what it means either. Or the time Stephen gave us a “TV broadcast” report from the top of the Empire State Building with official anchor voice coming out of his then 7 year old smiling face.

As I tucked the boys into bed that evening it dawned on me that all of our stories involved every day time we’d spent together. I felt both grateful to be a part of my children’s happiest memories, and somewhat surprised by their content. Their favorite fun memories were just being together. Imagine that.

Now if I could only have bottled that content feeling for the drive home we could have avoided the “are we there yets?” and “MOM, my brother won’t share his book”, and of course the infamous – “what did you pack to eat?”. My GPS system thought it was counting down the miles, but really it was counting down to sanity. Three boys should never be locked in a car within arms reach of each other for any significant amount of time. Despite the very normal drive home, it turns out that two days was the perfect amount of time to make new memories and gain perspective.

Inspired by our trip we made smores for dessert last night. After all, who said you have to be in the woods to enjoy the gooey snack and tell funny stories. Only this time, we had new stories to tell. Stories about how Nicky fell shoes, hat and fishing rod off the dock into the water when “the big one” tugged the line and got away. And stories about how close the wild fox came to entering a neighborhood garage. And let’s not forget stories about the man eating mosquitoes we bravely battled with our bare hands.