My family is blessed to have access to a cottage at a small lake that has been in the family for 60 years. There have been many happy memories here, and though times have changed, many things somehow stay the same.
The cottage has gone from a one-story cement block structure that was really small (but in good times you could still cram a bunch of people in it for card games). It used to have a "party line", meaning you shared the telephone with your neighbors. I remember when it was a big deal that the cottage got a microwave. I also remember coming up in the early spring and having to use water from the lake to flush the toilet. Now it is quite modernized and I am writing this for you on our Wi-fi. There have been several generations of neighbors in this area too, and time changes and things change for them as well. I remember lazy days sitting on the porch, reading a book, or rocking inside reading a book. Now I spend most of my time and my husband's (who has been awesome with his daddy-toddler bonding time) chasing after our little guy.
It has also been a change from suburbia and a townhouse to actually be able to give my son some freedom moving about the yard (being careful of the giant water hazard in front). There are lots of trees and fresh air and he had a lot of family to meet, as we recently just had a large family reunion. Some things have not changed though. Like seeing the rite of passage that some of my family embarked upon. Waterskiing. Pulling stunts on the tube. Taking my own son for his first tube ride. What special memories, which I have found more excitement and anxiety-provoking than they used to be for me. I was talking with my sister about how I was more nervous tubing at 5 mph with my son than I used to be tubing at 30 mph around a corner while trying to switch tubes. While I am fine taking the consequences of my watersport prowess (or lack thereof), I am acutely sensitive to ensuring that my son does not suffer from my risk-taking or have a bad memory that he is traumatized for life... There is a time for taking those risks though. Seeing my teenage and twenty-something cousins get rug burn (from the water) and get yanked around like they were on a bull at the rodeo, I see this as an environment where I did learn how to take risks. I did have the same "peanut gallery" as they call it, of aunts, uncles and cousins who as long as you had the will to persevere, they would stick it out in the muck until you got your butt out of the water, without making fun of you. If you have the perseverance to stick it out and earn your ride around the lake, no one is going to make fun of (or remember) how long it took you to get up. Between raking the pine needles (a job I didn't find out until more recently was more about staying out of my grandparents hair than it was about function) or scrubbing the cement walls and scraping mold or cleaning out the shed, because if you wanted to go for a tube ride, you had to be able to get to the tube. These, along with the exciting and slightly riskier jobs- cleaning out the gutters, caring for the boat, all played a role in developing my work ethic- and my play ethic. They all played a role in making me a "calculated risk taker". A lesson you can't learn in helicopter-parent suburbia. I guess cottage life is a microcosm for childhood as it can be for family as well.
One thing I realized this week- I am not afraid of being made fun of for no longer doing the antics and risky stunts I used to do as a teenager. I'm kind of over it. Yes, it was fun, it had it's place. But now that someone calls me "Mommy", I can't afford to end up pulling muscles and getting bedrest and I really don't need to. Just like changing tubes at high speed or standing on the tube or getting up on the water-skiis or dropping a ski used to be a huge accomplishment and thrill- my two year old learning his numbers, saying "Mommy" and dancing around with a cross in his hands singing "Alleluia" at the top of his lungs give me more of a sense of glee and accomplishment. I am content with that. You can call me an old wimp- but you can call me a contented old wimp : )