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Snow days aren’t always joyful at my house

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I have to chuckle when I read yet another Facebook post praising Mother Nature for one more snow day to “cuddle with the children.”

People go on and on about the absolute joy of sipping hot cocoa together in front of the fire while playing a friendly game of rummy. I have to admit that I’ve never experienced such bliss.

Snow days at my house immediately get me thinking about yet another missed opportunity to enjoy the ever fleeting moments of summer. I cherish our days spent lounging lazily at the pool, basking in the sun at the beach and enjoying the daylight into the blissful warmth of evening. I am definitely not a winter girl.

Part of my problem, of course, is the fact that December and January signify such intense loss for our family. Jaiden was injured just days before Christmas, and she passed in mid-January. The concept of celebrating the New Year is lost somewhere in-between our ever-present grief and the longing for times gone by.

This year was particularly difficult. I lost a dear friend from high school just a week after the anniversary of Jaiden’s death, and then my most beloved Godfather suddenly took ill after the holidays and quickly deteriorated in front of our eyes. He lost the great battle in February. Yet, there is solace knowing they are both now with Jaiden … running freely on the endless shoreline, under that intense sunshine and eternal summer brilliance.

Snow days already have the cards stacked against them, but there really is more to the story. It was on a snow day that Jaiden’s accident occurred. Actually, it began as a delayed opening. We happily assembled kits of “cookie dough in a jar” and chatted at the table. Then absolute joy broke loose when the children learned that school had officially been called – it was an early start to Christmas vacation. The rest of the story is the unwelcome journey that forever altered the course of history, and life, as we know it.

Now, I approach snow days from the perspective of nostalgia, yet, I struggle to remind myself that today is the first day of the rest of our lives. So we make grandiose plans. We vow to spend the first portion of the day cleaning and working on projects, while the second half shall be devoted to family games and activities.

Only the whirlwind of life inevitably seeps in. The group chore of folding one measly basket of laundry quickly turns into a three-hour venture. Like the movie “Groundhog Day,” we just keep refolding piles that the little one has demolished, sending children upstairs with stacks of clean clothes that are immediately forgotten and tossed into the abyss of dirty laundry on the floor when an electronic game stumbles into their path, and adding yet another armful of mismatched socks to the growing blob that we just finally sorted out last week.

As my frustration grows, I warn the children that they cannot play games until their chores are done. This is typically followed by a burst of tears from at least one little cherub, then a unified chorus of “not me” rings out. Weary now of the fading daylight, I am reminded of the bills that must be paid, the dishes that must be washed and the floors that should be mopped. Snow days always seem to fall into the cervices of an otherwise fully booked “work” day, already filled to the brim with delayed tasks and hovering responsibilities.

The baby, no longer truly a baby, yet not quite willing to give up his nursing fetish, naturally has a one-track mind on snow days. As I peel him away after an hour of cuddling and coddling … I escape into my office to accomplish a few “must-do items.” “Scooby Doo” runs on the television for the umpteenth time, yet, my children sit mesmerized as if it is their inaugural viewing of a long-awaited classic.

I whip through my necessities and emerge from my office to prepare lunch. I am greeted with four sweet faces covered in Valentine chocolate and sucking down peanut butter from a spoon. Only the peanut butter is all over my leather couch, the carpet and ingrained into my 4-year-old’s hair. And suddenly, no one is hungry for lunch!

We take a hiatus to go outside and shovel the back deck and front walkway. After trudging back inside, my floors are covered in intricate piles of melting snow and dirt. Wet coats are piled high onto the drying rack in front of the pellet stove. As luck would have it, the most expensive jacket finds its way off the rack and onto the decorative glass door of the stove; where a small part of it shall remain for eternity. In my sorrow, I remind myself to buy another roll of Tear-Aid tape.

Finally, it is time to gather at the kitchen table for a friendly game of Mexican Train. Virtually impossible to do with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. One who wants to run off with the dominoes and the other who wants to play house with the chickens. They both keep swiping at the trains and turning over the hidden numbers. Tempers are rising and fuses are getting shorter and shorter. Without fail, one of the kids simply cannot get the necessary opening number and as the rest of us build our long, intricate trains. They just keep collecting tiles and their pout grows longer and longer.

I glance out the window and notice that darkness has fully descended, and I start to think about dinner amidst the tears of frustration and arguing that erupts from all four cherubs now. As I flick on the light outside, I am horrified to see a fresh, thick white blanket of flurries cascading from the angry sky.

I silently curse Mother Nature … and smile to myself in bewilderment of all those posts in praise of yet another snow day.

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