I woke up this morning, looked out my window and there it was.
It decided to show its face early without receiving an invitation. It’s exactly what it feels like when you wake up and notice you’re clothed in a faint fog. Winter wasn’t leaving and with its delivery came a sunken sadness I couldn’t quite describe. Winter comes with blistering coldness, grey skies and hibernation. All of which mirror the reflections I experience inside. I have never been a fan of winter and am aware that winter isn’t a fan of me either.
I walk downstairs and the kids aren’t awake. I stumble to get the water going for the bottles, the coffee pot on and begin to pray that school isn’t cancelled so that I can get a head start on grading papers that await me. All of a sudden, I hear a shuffle of socks before a poke alerts me.
“Mommy! It’s snowing outside!” Isaiah’s face had his usual morning wrinkle but his eyes were beaming with excitement. Then, Autumn turned the corner and before she could scurry her way into the kitchen, she was stopped.
“Autumn, come. Come quick! It’s snowing outside. Wanna see?”
I peeked across the television screen and saw that their school was closed. There goes my opportunity to go to bed before midnight. Grading was inevitably going to call out for me right as my exhaustion does. I wish I could tell you that my first instinct was to relish in their pure excitement, but I would be lying. Truth is, I was thinking about the errands I had to run, the snow pants I thought I had a few more weeks to purchase and the fact that there was no plan for entertaining three kids under the age of four today. Oh and let’s not forget the shoveling. The snowplow was buried deep behind the summer gear and again, we thought we had four weeks.
They couldn’t wait to play in the snow. I had to break their hearts when I told them that it was simply too cold and windy to get outside, especially when they have been fighting viruses that like winter, weren’t invited either (ever). Instead, I tried to convince them that going to the store to try on snow pants would be more exciting.
There was a reason school was closed and it wasn’t just because of the roads. It’s because no one, I repeat, no one should face that vicious, cold wind. It slaps you on the face and doesn’t mind doing it again until you seek refuge indoors. Try going up against it while hauling two toddlers and a car seat. We walked in the empty store and it was in that moment that I realized I was crazy. We’re trying on everything from gloves to snow pants and no one is happy. The kids are bickering, the baby is hungry and I just want to crawl inside a clothing rack to go back to sleep. Whose idea was this anyway? Oh right.
We got the snow pants and even made it back into the van in one piece. Well sort of. I lost a button to my jacket and the kids had come to the same conclusion about the early arrival of winter as I did. On our way home I glanced back at the kids. They were looking outside the window at the snow and were so quiet. I was quiet too. Then, it hit me as if a semi-truck hit our car.
I missed the invitation.
That faint fog I was clothed in was too heavy and I couldn’t see outside of it. I couldn’t even see them. I was so focused on the errands, the timelines, the impeding sickness and my detesting of winter that I missed the moment.
So I did what most of us women and mothers do. I sat in guilt. I was no longer clothed in a faint fog, I was clothed in guilt. All I could think about was how my misery for all things winter inadvertently bled into them. By the time I had this realization it was naptime and I wondered how I could redeem myself? I put them down for a nap and I could see their disappointment. Could they go outside sick? No. Could I have accepted their invitations without going outside to get snow pants as a replacement?
I beat myself up about moments like this all of the time. I judge myself for them too and I am convinced I judge myself worse than anyone really does, including my own children. They are far more forgiving of me than I will ever be of myself, especially when it concerns them. So, I was determined to seek redemption. I didn’t want winter to win, but I certainly didn’t want it to win at the expense of those three adorable faces.
I scrambled to find hot chocolate and marshmallows. Right when I thought we were out of last year’s supply, there it was like a shining beam of light from God. I picked up the can and started to boil the water. I threw our processed 80/20 rule (sorry Lisa Leakes) right out the window. If I was going to fail at something today, it wasn’t going to be them (again). After I had enough time to emotionally forgive myself and ease the guilt a bit, they woke up. It was like instant re-play from earlier that morning, except unlike most adults, they didn’t bring their grudge with them. The hope and excitement was still there waiting to be accepted and this time, I was ready. They glanced over at the table and asked “What is that Mommy?” They walked over curiously and saw the mugs of hot cocoa and marshmallows (the real kind) in their cups.
There it was.
They scurried up into their chairs and looked up at me with big giggles. I stopped. They didn’t know it, but their stares and giggles up at me was my forgiveness. I kissed their foreheads, tickled them and asked, “Who wants more marshmallows?” When I accepted their invitation, the fog lifted and suddenly the scenery outside didn’t seem so scary. It was warm, the sky looked peaceful and I wasn’t alone. They were with me and I was experiencing joy with them.
Winter did come early and I will forever have to wrestle with the winter inside of me, but the invitations are there and maybe, just maybe, their embrace of winter will become mine.
In love & truth,