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.