When my youngest daughter started walking, life suddenly got messy. Really, REALLY, messy. With two daughters under four, my dreams for a Martha Stewart-ish type home were destroyed. Totally and utterly decimated.
It would seem that my little mess makers had other plans. Real life plans, like finger painting carried out into the hallway, or play dough sculpting on the couch. I fought the good fight at first, meticulously replacing furniture inside the doll house each evening, wiping fingerprints off the walls every day, and not going to bed each evening until my kitchen was worthy of a photo spread. And every morning, my little mess makers would get up and set up a new day of challenges.
I was exhausted. And cranky. Really freaking cranky. Did these children not understand the importance of having the house perfect? Did they not see that there were more important things in the world than playing for Pete’s sake? Why, oh why did they have to be so messy?!
Oh wait...maybe I was the one not getting it.
After my little light bulb moment, I started to focus on the big picture and tried my best to ignore the minutiae. Did it really matter if the furniture was in the dollhouse the right way? So what if the girls put the bed in the bathroom, was this really going to change my day? Really? (Okay, okay, truth be told it totally bothered me for a while. Anal retentive personalities like this are hard to shake, people.)
I also realized that the only person who cared if my kitchen was ready for a magazine was me. Fine, Martha too, but she wasn’t stopping in to help clean, so I had to let that go too.
After a time, dealing with life’s little (and sometimes big) messes got easier. I started to relax and my children got a little bit older. This meant they got to help keep the big picture tidy so mommy didn’t have a nervous breakdown. That being said, they still manage to totally confound me. Why spend two hours cleaning your room and then turn around and undo all your hard work in 15 minutes? *sigh* Baby steps, Candace, baby steps.
This summer my girls went to camp for two weeks. It was glorious. You can imagine, right? Pristine bedrooms, and dish-free counters! Bathrooms with no toothpaste caked in the sink and full toilet paper rolls. I stepped on not one sticky thing….for two full weeks. It was heaven at first, but by the second week, I would have given anything to see a pair of socks on the floor. Then...wait for it...another light bulb moment.
This is why my mother has infinite patience when the girls visit her.
Someday I'm going to miss those little messes.
Because little mess makers grow up.
Let’s get one thing clear from the beginning, ok? It’s Muskoka not "The Muskokas." Only a complete ignoramus would call it that. Sheesh.
Fine the ignoramus was me and I’m grateful for the kindness of a reader on Life In Pleasantville who pointed out that Muskoka is one of a kind, so it's never plural. Dodged a bullet there.
I’ve been in Ontario for 43 years and had only visited Muskoka briefly as a child. I barely remembered it. When I heard people speak of it I didn't really get it. I mean, Ontario is gorgeous all over the place, couldn’t I get that feeling somewhere else? The short answer is no. The longer answer is that Muskoka is unique and worth your time. Here are five reasons why you must visit:
Know Muskoka, Know Peace
Seriously, can we find a way to bottle this tranquility Muskoka? Just driving to our resort I felt my shoulders leave their usual position up by my ears. You are surrounded by beauty in Muskoka, so it's not hard to see why the rich and famous have been building retreats here for over 150 years. It's 2500 square miles of serenity now. For us city folk, that's gold. Pure gold.
To be Charmed
Make no mistake, you'll find no sticky sweet manufactured charm in these parts. Nope, Muskoka comes by it all naturally. From the rustic cottages to the stunning "summer" homes, you won't be able to lift your jaw off the ground. You'll find bakeries in converted churches and yoga classes run over a pond. The shops are unique and there is no way you can leave without taking something uniquely Muskoka home with you. I fell in love with the stores and people in Port Carling in particular.
No urban sprawl here. In fact you'll be hard pressed to find a high rise anywhere. No great swaths of concrete highway either. Just gorgeous trees reaching high towards the sky and over 1600 lakes. If you enjoy driving, like I do, then Muskoka will be a real treat. Every twist in the road reveals another stunning view. The roads are curvy too so you can’t speed along mindlessly. Nope this is truly where you get to enjoy the ride.
It's An Antique Gold Mine
Antiques abound in Muskoka and this was an unexpected but pleasant surprise for me. I only wish I'd had more time to really explore through more shops. I did however score a pristine collection of Vintage Pyrex Delphite Blue dishes, a gorgeous pink depression-era serving bowl, a pink depression-era citrus reamer and a FireKing Lusterware mixing bowl. If you're not into antiques this means nothing to you, if you are, then you can practically hear my delighted squeals.
It's About Connection
It's hard not to find connection in Muskoka, and I'm not talking about your cell phone. Find connection with the land or the water if communing with nature is your thing. More importantly though, Muskoka is the ideal place to find connection with those you love. Bring your spouse, your children, your parents, your siblings or your friends. Muskoka is like a great big group hug.
I can hardly wait to return to you Muskoka, because I get it now. I finally get it. To know you is to love you.
Photo credit: Hazel Brae