Years ago, when I first graduated from university, I found myself signing an employment offer for my very first full-time job. Yes, I was beginning my career.
“Any questions?” the head of Human Resources asked.
“Well,” I replied, “it’s not really a question; but I just wanted to let you know that I’d like to take a vacation day to celebrate my birthday next week.”
“Next week?” she said, stunned. “But you’ve only just started the position!”
“Oh I know,” I offered confidently. “It’s just that since I was a young girl, I promised myself that I would not work on my birthday. It was easy to book the day off when I worked part-time, and I’ve been able to do so every year leading up to now. And I know the timing is awkward, but even though I’m beginning my career, I don’t want to lose sight of that promise to myself.”
The HR Manager cocked one head to the side, and after looking at me for a long moment, said – “Okay. Your vacation day for April 13th has been approved.”
And every year after that, leading up to the day I gave birth to my first son, I took the day off.
Of course, laying in bed on birthday mornings, I couldn’t help but think of others who couldn’t do the same on their special day. Brain surgeons and restaurant owners. Students struggling to pay bills and seniors struggling to keep their jobs. Fishermen and crossing guards.
Then, after I became a mother, I started identifying with those men and women who have to work on their special day. Because being a mother is more than just being a business owner, brain surgeon or bookkeeper; it’s a 24/7 position that you can never really take a day off from.
So… what happens when you’re a restaurant owner/ chef /sommelier… and a mother? How do you unwind on Mother’s Day?
I’d like to introduce you to Aaron & Bronwyn Linley – Co-owners and chefs of Bijou Restaurant in Stratford, Ontario. Aaron is the executive chef and Bronwyn (formally trained as a pastry chef) runs the front of house and wine list (she is also a sommelier by trade). Theirs is a story made of fairy tales: they met at Stratford Chef School (perhaps their eyes met over a delicate terrine of foie gras?) and two years after they graduated, they married in 1998. One year later, baby Liam joined the family, followed by daughter Hazel in 2002.
Bronwyn is that woman – the hypothetical woman who works on birthdays and Mother’s Days. After the opening of Bijou 12 years ago, both Aaron and Bronwyn spend anywhere from 5 to 6 days a week there, working together. And, the Linley’s are about to become even busier when they take on the additional roles of executive chef (Aaron) and food and beverage manager (Bronwyn) of the lounge and restaurant at the soon-to open Bruce Hotel; a new luxury boutique hotel that is currently being built in Stratford.
So how does Bronwyn revive and rejuvenate? How does a busy culinary couple with their plates (pun intended) always piled high take the time to celebrate life?
“Aaron gets nailed in May because it’s not only my birthday and our wedding anniversary (15 years this year!), but it’s also my favourite holiday, Mother’s Day,” Bronwyn jokes.
The answer is simple: Aaron needs to get creative.
This year, Aaron plans to give Bronwyn an entire day off from her busy life as restaurant owner/ chef /sommelier /mother. (And who could deserve it more?) To this point, he has planned a day that focuses solely on her.
She’ll start her special day by kissing her kids goodbye and heading off to the spa for some much needed relaxation. Following a morning massage and some beautifying treatments, Aaron has organized a late lunch for her and some of her closest girlfriends at a favourite local restaurant. When Bronwyn returns home, Aaron will have a beautiful dinner and a glass of her favourite Niagara wine (Inniskillin Niagara Estate Series Riesling 2011) waiting for her to welcome her home and help ease her back into the madness.
Kudos to Aaron for planning a most wonderful Mother’s Day for Bronwyn! The spa, time with girlfriends and beautiful dinner just sounds so spectacular, I may have to drop a few hints to my own husband. And he definitely has my two thumbs way up for his wine selection –
As many readers know, my husband and I were married in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and have a healthy appreciation for the wineries and local artisans. And if there’s one thing we absolutely know, Inniskillin wine is all about couples. As Canada’s first estate winery, its history is its foundation. Inniskillin really values the sentiment in lasting relationships, especially those between couples that have taken the time to grow together, just as Inniskillin has taken the time to perfect its craft.
In fact, the very first über-romantic gestures from my husband? Tickets to the Niagara Icewine festival, where we sampled a 2005 Vidal Icewine to remember. To this day, Inniskillin Icewine remains my guilty pleasure, and is gifted to me without hesitation on my special days.
This Mother’s Day, how are you hoping to unwind? What are you most looking forward to?
And, for all my readers who don’t take the day off on birthdays, Mother’s Day, and other holidays, I beg you to set aside 24 hours for YOU. Of course, if you happen to have a bottle of Inniskillin Niagara Estate Series Riesling 2011 by your side, how can it not be a special occasion?
This post is sponsored by Inniskillin. The opinions on this blog, as always, are my own.