It’s snowing again as I write this, which means it’s now been snowing for over 24 hours. I’m not sure of the total accumulation from this Valentine’s Day storm; looks like there’s over a foot on the picnic table, and that’s on top of several inches that we already had on the ground.
I love the snow. Our first two winters in Vermont were uncharacteristically mild. This has been a more “typical” winter (if there is such a thing), and I’ll take it. In my opinion, cold is much more tolerable if there’s snow to play in. Plus, it’s so beautiful. Whenever it starts snowing, I’m like a kid again — looking out the window, hoping for maximum accumulation, rooting for a snow day.
Except that lately I don’t root for snow days.
Today is a snow day.
It’s a snow day, and it’s Valentine’s Day, and it’s Friday, and next week is Winter Break. Which makes this the first of ten straight days of having all my kids at home.
My two oldest daughters recently went to see the new animated Disney film, Frozen. This was a BIG DEAL because it was the first movie they’d ever seen in a theater. (Our town’s little movie theater has only two screens, so there aren’t a lot of kid-friendly choices). They loved everything about the movie and the experience.
I mention this because today — this snow day — I feel like my life has become the Frozen movie. There’s the seemingly endless snow; this time of year, it’s easy to imagine eternal winter. There’s my oldest daughter, who’s been vamping around singing the movie’s Big Hit, “Let It Go” all morning long. (Note to self: Apologize to my family, who endured me belting out “Memory” from Cats for an entire year all those decades ago. There’s nothing worse than a six-year-old attempting a power ballad). Also: there’s the fighting sisters. Throw in a couple of trolls, and that’s basically the movie.
Then again, maybe I’m the troll.
I’ve said this before, but I can’t relate when I see other parents post on Facebook that they’re thrilled when there’s a snow day because they get to spend all that extra time snuggling with their kids and playing in the snow and baking and crafting. I think those are lovely sentiments, and I know that some parents genuinely feel that way. But I don’t, and I feel badly that I don’t.
After I got the snow day call from the school district, I posted a slightly snarky comment on Facebook about how the kids would be in school until July if these snow days kept up. Some people interpreted that to mean that I considered it a bad thing that school would run into July, as in: “Don’t steal my precious summer vacation time with the kids!” On the contrary, making up snow days on the other end is the payoff, as far as I’m concerned. I’ll take all the school I can get!
I love being a parent (most of the time). And I LOVE my children. Honestly? I just don’t love them all together, all day long. It’s challenging to be an introvert with four children. I’m aware that we “chose” to have four kids, and thus are responsible for spending time with them. Perhaps someday I’ll genuinely look forward to snow days and weekends and summer and school holidays; maybe when the kids get older and aren’t constantly underfoot, or can put on their own snow boots.
Here are some scenes from our snow day:
-One daughter had a tantrum at breakfast because the blueberry pancakes her father had made didn’t include chocolate chips.
-One daughter proclaimed it “The worst Valentine’s Day ever!” and pouted for an hour because I didn’t praise her quick teeth-brushing.
-Erick left for work. (The college didn’t have a snow day; the students — i.e. tuition-payers — can all walk to class). He had to dig his car out at the bottom of our driveway, but he made it.
-Once we got those fires under control, we resumed our regular routine, in which I fielded nonstop, rotating requests from all four daughters (non-verbal, in Abigail’s case).
-I tried, unsuccessfully, to interest the girls in Valentine’s Day crafts.
-Mid-morning, I attempted a baking project, like a good mother: The three oldest girls helped me make pink buttercream frosting to decorate our Valentine’s Day cupcakes. This entailed ten minutes of heart-stopping chaos: each girl demanding a turn with the hand mixer, confectioner’s sugar spilled on the floor and me, Georgia eating frosting by the spoonful, and sprinkles everywhere. (Did I mention I was holding a baby the entire time?) They loved it; I needed a nap.
-Naptime! I put all three big girls on the floor of their room in their sleeping bags, and allowed them to watch the entire DVD of The Lorax.
During my 86 minutes of naptime quiet, I sat at my computer and was reminded that my Valentine’s Day blog post had just published. I was reminded that, in this blog post, I wrote that love usually means doing things that you don’t want to do; dying to yourself on behalf of the ones you love. I realized that this snow day had asked for that kind of love from me, and I’d been pretty trollish about it.
Easy to write, hard to do.
After naptime, a friend and mother of two who lives down the street invited all of us — the four girls and me — to go sledding on their hill. So we all bundled up and went out to play in fluffy snow that came up to my knees. And then, this friend invited us all into her house for hot chocolate. Six children and two parents; can you even imagine what her mudroom looked like after we’d all disrobed and tromped through it??? THAT is love. And on this day, when I’d been so grumpy with my own love, it was also grace.