Friday, 14 February 2014 12:18

Love In The Time Of Snow Days

By Kate Towne Sherwin | Families Today
I’m writing this on a snow day. It was expected—we heard the reports of the impending storm from both the news and all our friends and family. “There’s a 95 percent chance of six to 12 inches!” said our local weatherman (my oldest son, who watches the Weather Channel like I eat those Lindt Peanut Butter Truffles—more is always better). The boys wore their pajamas to bed inside out, they flushed an ice cube down the toilet, they put spoons under their pillows. I wanted a snow day for them because they’d be so disappointed if they had to go to school after all their efforts, and also because the morning school routine is just so fast-paced and stressful and busy—so much packed into a short 45-minutes of breakfast, homework checking, getting dressed, getting washed up, getting coats on and getting out the door (no comment please on how much of that can and should be done the night before … I’m too tired to think about it). So I look forward to slow-paced snow days almost as much as the kids do. But at the same time, snow days bring with them their own stresses. My husband works in Albany, so I’m never thrilled to see on the news how slippery the Northway is and how many accidents have already happened before he even leaves the house. I fret about how I would get to him if he got into accident because I’m a huge baby about driving in the snow (I got into a very small, very minor accident because of snowy conditions when I was pregnant with my oldest, and it has affected me in huge ways—mostly by being terrified of driving in the snow). More than that, of course, I freak out about the idea of him getting into accident just because of what that might mean—things I don’t even want to put into print but that swirl through my head every time he’s more than 15 minutes later getting home than what I’d calculated would be the right time based on volume of traffic, time of day, amount of gas in the tank, etc. But then, he’s been commuting back and forth to Albany for 11 winters, through many a snow day, and hasn’t had an accident yet. And the other parts of the day are just so lovely—the boys play in the yard for hours, and is there any happier face than that of a child in the snow? Rosy cheeks, huge smiles, runny noses, snow all over them—childhood could not be better than the way it is on a snow day, with unlimited time to relax, to play, to get all snowy, to come in and get cozy under blankets with books and movies, and I usually try to make cookies or some other hot-out-of-the-oven confection. Those are some of my best memories from being a little girl and I’m hopeful my boys will think so too when they look back on these days. At the same time, though, there’s also the shoveling that needs to happen on snowy days. I mentioned last month that my older boys are of an age and ability when I can send them out, even several times in the day, to shovel the steps and the walks and I can count on them to do it, and do it well, which is just a dream come true. But I also find it somewhat stressful to mentally stay on top of when I need to send them out (my biggest goals are to make sure the walk is clear for the mailman and for when Daddy gets home). And today I forgot to send them out to shovel before I sent them to play in the yard, and the gate to the front from the back is snowed shut, so they’d have to traipse their snowy selves all over the house from the back door to the front door, which is just too much for me to handle in my please-let’s-not-mess-up-the-house-any-more-than-it-already-is way. So I went out and shoveled myself, cringing at the thought of my neighbors seeing my seven-months-pregnant self shoveling while my able-bodied boys are nowhere to be seen. It was just easier for me to do it quickly, this one time, and the fresh air and exercise actually felt great. And the next time it needs to be shoveled, I’ll send them out—I promise. But I also love that the snow prevents me from having to leave the house and allows me to wear my slippers and cozy house sweater all day and see the boys move through the phases of their day—from playing quietly alone to playing quietly or loudly together to reading to wrestling to asking for drinks and snacks to whooping with joy when Daddy gets home and then, once he’s here and we’re all home together, we can hunker down and be content that no matter what’s happening outside our door, we’re all together. And so it goes…snow days are a remarkably accurate snapshot of my life, with its worries and sweetness. Don’t laugh—I know this might seem a little overly dramatic for an analogy with a snow day—but I read recently that “compatible” comes from the Latin word compati, which means “to suffer with,” and I’ve been musing on that a lot since reading it, in regards to my marriage and our family, and I like it. Compatibility with one’s spouse is one of the things I think most people want from their marriages, after all, and I actually really like knowing that it refers to suffering together—all of life, in my experience, is a mixture of suffering and joy, and so often the joy follows the suffering, or is mixed in with it, or is born out of it. Like the pain of labor ending with a baby. Like how I tell my husband at the end of a hard day, “There’s no one I’d rather endure these awful days with than you.” Like the worry of a wife at the danger of icy roads coupled with the pure happiness of a boy bounding about in the snow. Would I recognize the joys without having to go through the suffering? Deep snowdrifts of thought for this Valentine’s Day—I hope it’s a happy one for all of you! Kate Towne Sherwin is a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) living in Saratoga Springs with her husband and their sons Thomas (9), Gabriel (7), John Dominic (5), Xavier (3), and Thaddeus (2); they expect their sixth baby in spring 2014. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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