For months, I’ve been pleading with the weather gods for a reprieve from the freezing cold, ideal-for-hermits-who-never-want-to-leave-their-warm-abode kind of weather. “We are ready for the sunshine, weather gods!” I would scream (to myself). Just last week, as we were driving home from school, the boys caught a glimpse of their favorite park peaking out through a few patches of melted snow and at the same time, they both screamed: “PARK!” Not, “Let’s go to the park!” or “I love the park!” Just the noun: “PARK!” like a bunch of cooped up Neanderthals stuck in their cave of a home for too long. Goodness knows we have tried everything to get these kids “outside”, but the anesthetizing temperatures and legion of snow days have made the whole process just plain difficult—not to mention the Herculean task of getting three little humans dressed for sub zero temps (and finding matching mittens, of course).
So, yeah–this winter has been, well, wintery : too much snow, even more ice, a lot of cancelled school, illnesses that stung us in turns like mosquitoes, salt stains on my hardwood floors, and more shoveling than the average back can stand (thank you, husband, for always shoveling so I can spend another year upright). More so, there were way too many hours spent indoors. My kids watched enough TV that it became a part of their regular conversations (“Giorgie, do you think Mario and Luigi have a baby brother like us?”), and I probably yelled too much about their over-use of technology (as I held my iPhone behind my back). Still, there was something about this winter, in all its ill-repute, that I already miss. Winter was the time we were all forced together like refugees, undistracted by other people and playmates, or by the lure of the sun and its promise of fun. Instead, we were frequently found lazing on a couch, all five of us, intermittently snuggling, tickling, teasing or trying to get the baby to do a new “trick” (I think we finally mastered waving!). We were looking outside the window analyzing the size of the snowflakes (“These ones look like golfballs, Mommy!”), sometimes even venturing outside for a walk or an always-short snowball fight (Giorgie and I are a little intolerant to freezing snowballs in the face. He has the excuse of being 3; I make up a new (bad) excuse every time). We do laundry, play with Star Wars figures or Thomas trains or dinosaurs, and cook meals and wash dishes—the regular stuff. We do that stuff in other seasons too, but in this kind of New York winter, there is the notion that we are “snowed in” and we are battling some kind of extraneous force together . And that makes the winter, well, kind of fantastic. The focus is on our family, on the present moment, not on the things we normally would have done (or wasted time planning) had we not been snowed in (hey, I can do hot yoga in my next, childless life).
This past weekend, we got some sweet relief from the harsh weather. As the time sprang forward (and we crossed our fingers and toes that our little ones would “spring forward” with us and not wake up at 4:30 am), the weather gods generously bestowed upon us a 46 degree Sunday. To honor that last snow, and the prospect of a new spring, we went for a hike at Caleb Smith state park. The boys splashed in shin-high slush, skidded on sparkly ice, and “fed” the resident swan bites of their snowballs. I wore baby Marco in the same Ergo carrier I have worn all the boys in and, as good ole winter taught me this year, I relished the present, and time stood still for a little while. For a few minutes, as I sat with my precious sleeping baby under a pagoda, I watched the big boys slip and slide across a slushy bridge with their dad, smiles and wide-eyed joy in tact. I got to hear shrieks of excitement over a new found puddle of melted snow, and watch that rare gigantic grin of my husband’s (that I love oh-so-much) glimmer as his boys splashed around with unabashed bliss. And so, my new sentiments toward old man winter are confirmed: he is not all that bad after afterall. Maybe the beauty of winter IS its unwelcoming features—and that in its bareness, our love is even more prominent.
I have always been a lover of sun and summer and the warmth it brings, but this year, despite complaining about the winter all season (I’m sorry, man), I’m grateful for the gift it has given me: the realization that the present moment is the best moment–especially if I’m with my boys…even if it is 2 degrees outside.