The blaring strains of “Livin’ on a Prayer” racketed out of my phone at 5:07 a.m. today, startling me out of a deep sleep. I shoved my poor snoring cocker spaniel out of the way to grab my phone, pushed a few wrong buttons, and then eventually heard a recorded message from the school district. Snow day! My kids’ school was closed for the day. Rejoice!
Except at that very moment, my busy adult brain didn’t really feel like rejoicing. My “plan” for the day had been effectively ruined with that phone call, and there was a bit of stress in receiving the news.
That’s not exactly how I felt when I was a child.
I can vividly remember receiving this type of news when I was a child myself. The unexpected pleasure of a day off from school brought with it unparalleled jubilation. A free day off from school! A whole day to stay home and play! I can still feel that pure joy, the contented relaxation and the thrill of freedom. I remember doing lots of fun things on those Michigan snow days … we sledded on the monster hill in our backyard, I dressed in my snowsuit to stand in a hockey net in my driveway while my brothers practiced their slapshots, we drank hot chocolate with lots of those itty-bitty marshmallows, I played with Barbies, I read, and I watched The Smurfs, Punky Brewster, and Saved By the Bell before playing “Where in the World is Carmen Santiago?” on our Commodore. It was amazing! I can still taste the hot dogs and mac ‘n cheese. I can still picture the shimmery snowflakes falling gently all around me as I watched through eyelashes frozen stiff. It was heavenly.
Snow days are a little bit different when you’re a grown up. I can actually remember the first time I realized that grown-up snow days can kind of suck. It was December of 2006, and Lancelot and I were newlyweds when the snowfall was so high that our office and most offices in Denver closed. I was initially thrilled! That same old feeling from my childhood days came back as I pictured drinking hot chocolate, cooking some chili, reading a long-ignored book and snuggling up with my hubby on the couch for a Netflix marathon (this was before “Netflix and Chill” was a thing, but that was certainly a possibility as well).
What happened instead was that I fretted because I couldn’t complete the tasks or return the emails I was supposed to return at work that day, I worried about the list of To-Do’s that was getting longer in my absence from the office, and I stressed because my plan to get everything done before whatever Big Important Meeting was looming in the following week was completely foiled. Oh, and I also did a lot of watching Lancelot shovel the driveway, I listened to a lot of complaints about the heavy, wet snow, I watched him nap while my own worries kept me wide-awake, and then I watched my wonderful, responsible new hubby shovel more snow.
Heavenly, peaceful, joyful snow day? Not exactly. I was stressed, pissed, annoyed and resentful about this unexpected interruption to my plan.
I imagine today, upon hearing the news of a snow day, there may be some adults feeling some of those same emotions (though I sure hope that all the kids are celebrating!). For us, it’s the second day of school after Winter Break, and though schools have been closed, offices haven’t. Working adults are facing a ridiculously cold, icy day at the office, which is never fun. Traffic is going to be a nightmare, tensions are going to be high, and everything is going to be slow-going today. That doesn’t exactly sound relaxing or productive. And those adults that have kids have another challenge – working parents need to take an additional day off of work after more than two weeks of juggling work and holidays and kids off from school. I doubt that most employers will be overly sympathetic, not to mention the sheer amount of work that may have been piling up and may only be getting worse for them today. Can they secure a babysitter? Will it be worth it? Should the mom or the dad stay home with the kids, and if so, how do they choose whose job is more important and which one can stand to take another day off?
For me, as a stay-at-home parent, I had a list a mile long of things I had planned to do today. The Professor went back to Kindergarten yesterday but Huck Finn was still home, so today was going to me my first day without littles attached to me in 19 days, 17 hours and 15 minutes (not that I was counting). I am eternally grateful to be a stay-at-home mom and have this precious time with my children, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes want/need a moment alone. Today, I was going to get that. Today, I was also going to do other exciting things like buy presents for upcoming children’s birthday parties without bringing along a child that wanted the same gifts bought for him. It was going to be heavenly!
This morning, after receiving the 5:07 a.m. phone call, I had a momentary silent adult temper tantrum… and then I took a deep breath, put my big girl panties on, and turned on my Good Enough brain. Instead of focusing on what I wasn’t going to be able to do today, I asked myself, “What can I learn today? How can I make this an extraordinary Snow Day for my kids? How can I make it a wonderful day for me, too?”
That’s when I realized that it’s really quite simple – it’s all about the cornerstone of this blog. Acceptance. I can’t change the weather. No one can. There’s nothing at all that I can or would change about this day, and lamenting the stuff I could have done will do me absolutely no good. The only thing to do is accept it. Roll with it. Go with the flow.
It’s a little bit ironic that there’s a snow day today and that I’m forced to slow down and just be present with my kids, because that’s exactly what I swore to do 19 days, 17 hours and 15 minutes ago. See, I made a commitment to myself and to my children when Winter Break started on Dec 19th. I vowed to be present over the holidays, because being present is the best gift anyone can give another person. The holidays are a hard time to actually do that, though. There were so many tasks I already had to complete (cooking, cleaning, decorating, shopping, wrapping, delivering, baking, calling, visiting, celebrating …), that I told myself I’d severely limit all the superfluous things that may have been nice to do.
I strived to be mindful of my time with my little men, who are growing so quickly, and with my dear family members and the friends I was lucky enough to see during the busy holiday hustle bustle. I decided not to write a single blog post – and I didn’t. I decided to forego yoga, choosing instead to occasionally stretch my weary muscles while constructing Trackmaster and Brio train sets. I tried to be a human being, not a human doing. And for the most part, it was awesome! I’m not going to say I did a perfect or even a good job of being present, but I certainly tried, and when I made myself slow down and enjoy just being with my kids, I was filled with joy and gratitude and love.
There’s no reason I can’t do the same thing today.
I didn’t expect this snow day today. I’m going to have to juggle a few things around to get everything I had planned to do today done at another time. I imagine it’s even more stressful for other adults around Denver today. Tensions may be running high. It may not be as overwhelmingly peaceful and jubilant as it was when I was a kid. But that’s okay.
Today, I’m going to go with the snow.