The Humbling Gift

The letter came a couple of weeks after my crisis of identity last November. At first reading I was convinced it was a scam, one of those seemingly magical deals that hook you in and later reveal all the damning fine print.

It was a purported initiative from the ‘Emma’s R&R Awards Team’ and I was the lucky winner of a (very generous) treatment voucher for the Peninsula Hot Springs, a dinner for three at The Epicurean in Red Hill and a night away with Dave at Mantons Creek Estate. It turns out that the incredible girls of Open House (thanks to Kerrie-Anne’s exceptional organisation) had secretly pitched in to send me off for some relaxation and recuperation time!

There is something very humbling about accepting such generosity. I would vascillate from feeling anticipation and excitement to being overwhelmed that people would contribute towards such an amazing experience for me. As the holidays continued and I again had the benefit of Dave’s help and assistance with the kids, I began to feel as if there were so many more deserving recipients that could do with recharging and guilt reigned.

At the same time, I knew that to waste such a once in a lifetime opportunity by being mired in self-doubt would be to squander the benevolence of kind-hearted friends, so I chose to be in the moment and just go with it!

I felt like I may as well be the owner of a yacht as I slipped on the white robe and tiptoed down the corridor for my treatment. Apart from an awkward native smoking ceremony that had me repeating to myself with a poker face ‘turn off your brain, just turn it off!’, the remainder of the massage was very therapeutic. I can’t even remember the last time I have been able to lie still during the day for more than a couple of minutes, let alone over an hour with someone actually attending to me and using expensive products on my skin. It was bliss. When I met up with Naomi after the treatment, I was thoroughly relaxed.


The best part of the day was being able to kick back and relax with fellow friends and mothers. Naomi, Monica and Kerrie-Anne all joined me for various parts of the day, and it was rejuvenating being able to have deep conversations without interrupting ourselves constantly to bark orders or tend to the seemingly desperate pleas of our children. We wandered through antique warehouses, indulged in expensive starters at The Long Table, sampled a large assortment of cheeses from Red Hill Cheese, lounged on the chesterfield couches at Mantons Creek Estate and enjoyed a sumptuous feast at The Epicurean for dinner.

We discussed philosophy, theology, our wayward (or uptight) youth, idiosyncrasies of our children, marriage, babies, friendship, the Enneagram, dairy farming practices and countless other issues. I’m beginning to realise that friendship of this depth isn’t actually that common and it must be pursued and reinforced by vulnerability and authenticity of both parties. We are each so different in our outlooks on numerous areas of life, but our commonality isn’t derived from similar views, but by our shared experiences and values in the fundamentals.















After our epic feast, Dave joined me at the accommodation, having soloed the kids the entire day and put them to bed ready for his parents to perform the overnight (and morning) shift. We had the entire Lodge to ourselves but ended up crashing pretty early as a solid night’s sleep sounded pretty alluring to both of us. Morning came, and with it an entirely brisk climate, though we still managed to enjoy a fresh breakfast on our balcony overlooking the leafy vineyards. We made the mistake of calling the kids on our way to Mornington and Eli’s morose pleas for us to come home were hard to shake off. We still made time for a visit to the Coffee Traders and a mandatory jaunt through an op shop before making our way back to the chaos zone.





Perspective is such an elusive thing. While I was enjoying the peace and freedom of a day with the girls, it was hard to even recall the tough side of the everyday struggles with the fragile emotions of young children and their shifting demands. As soon as morning hit, it was difficult to just kick back and enjoy the break, knowing that we were homeward bound just made me want to get back early to surprise the kids. Their ‘phone voices’ just sounded so little and fragile, and every conversation just made me teary.

Then, deep in the chaos of nap time that afternoon, with kids popping in and out of each others’ rooms like yo-yo’s, I had the opposite problem. How far away those soothing hot springs felt, with people just lying back on their banana lounges and relaxing. Where signs requiring limited noise actually beheld obedience and where leisurely conversations could be entered and continued at length. Did I squander my opportunity by heading home early?

And yet, despite the unpredictability and anarchy of these four walls, it is good to be home. To be in the zone of intense significance again, where keeping kids alive is the main game. If heading off to the spa or to a long lunch was something I had the freedom to indulge in daily, I suspect it would hold a fraction of the meaning and rejuvenation that it had for me at this stage of my life. And the fact that my friends were willing to gift such an experience and opportunity, while it still makes me squirm, is one of the most overwhelmingly incredible realities, and the thought of it will hopefully get me through many crazy moments this year. Because it means I have company on this journey. That fellow friends and mothers ‘get’ the struggle and are walking it alongside of me. That, more than any sensory experience, has had an incredible impact on my soul.

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