May 2015

“Closing for mental maintenance,” announced the sign on the door of one of my favourite restaurants in my favourite holiday town of Knysna last week. This famous little restaurant, called Ile de Pain, closes every year for six whole weeks. This time is used by the owners and staff for relaxation and research — what they call mental maintenance. They pull back, get perspective, and have the mental space and time to come up with fresh recipe and menu ideas. This is a restaurant that is always full and has people waiting in a queue outside all year round, come rain or shine and it has an almost zero staff turnover. I guess they deserve to recharge their batteries as they prepare a mammoth number of meals of a consistently high standard throughout the year, using their trademark handmade bread that is prepared fresh daily, starting in the wee hours of the morning.

Well, as a busy mother, I can certainly identify with having a constant queue of ‘customers’ that must be ’served’ all year round, from my children’s need for my attention and listening ear; to the countless forms from school that need filling in and signing; to finding cash for Civvies Day; to lifts to and from activities; to watching sports matches; to filling lunch boxes; to sewing on missing blazer buttons; to covering countless books; to labelling articles of clothing; to making sure uniforms get washed and ironed on the rainiest of days; to ensuring we get to doctor’s appointments on time; to the logistical nightmare of making plans for the family for when I am going out of town on business; to my children’s teachers who need to see me; to the friend’s child who needs a lift home; to the dog that needs a stitch or two at the vet and the bags that must be packed for holiday. And don’t forget the spill on the floor and the vitamins that must be put out for each member of the family every day so that they don’t get the flu. And the hearts that must be mended when children’s friendships go south; the homework hassles; the party invitations that must go out and, oh, the photographs that must be taken, right this minute! Because………..if I miss this moment, it might never happen again, and then, how on Earth will I remember it all, when it’s over?

Mums, it’s Mothers’ Day this month and you deserve a break. While we might all like six weeks off to recondition our minds, to retune our hearts and to reinvent our bodies, we know that it is just not going to happen because we are in such great demand for our awesome resourcefulness; our incredible talents; our unmatchable multi-tasking ability; our big hearts, and our very broad shoulders, to name but a few of our magnetic attractions.