I’m learning what it means to be a parent in winter.
I have many fond memories of winter as a child: sailing on sled in our yard rushing over three rock walls like a waterfall, composing figure skating routines on the nearby ponds, cross country skiing through the snow covered trees, skipping school to ski the slopes, hot cocoa to warm my bright red, tingling fingers. I loved snow. Good thing. God knows I wouldn’t have a ring on my left hand if I didn’t.
We’ve already had a few snow falls this year, and Bronson is entranced by the white-clad world. He and Oliver perch on the couch, staring out the window, laughing at the absurdness of pure joy falling in flake form to the ground.
Bronson asked if we could play in the snow, his voice cracking with desperation. When I told him he needed a nap first, he began crying, begging to nap immediately.
After a quicker than usual respite, I set about the task of dressing two young boys for the cold, fresh snow. This is when flashbacks to my childhood began.
Bronson protested my request for a bathroom visit before putting on his snow pants. He found them irritating once on, especially the way the elastic ankle cuffs covered his heels. His hat kept falling in his face, and his mittens (which were not the pair he wanted to wear) were inhibiting his joy. I put his arms in his jacket. He cried until his whole hand emerged. Sliding his feet into boots was nearly impossible. Mittens obviously throw him off-balance.
Meanwhile, Oli learned how to remove his hat. Really? Is that a necessary skill for an eight-month-old? He screamed once his snowsuit was on.
Two. Crying. Boys. I snapped that I was going outside in the snow for them!
Of course, they were both irritated, so I hauled them outside with my boots undone and my jacket unzipped. We ran around. Bronson ate snow. Oli smiled and squinted while experiencing snow flakes on his cheeks. Bronson threw snow at himself and got it on his neck and face. He cried some more. I took off my mittens and scooped the snow away from his skin.
I remember being the child. I remember the fuss of getting dressed for snow. I remember being upset if my mittens weren’t tucked into my jacket and my snow pants pulled over my boots. I remember my socks falling down. I remember my dad constantly exposing his hands to get snow out of my face, to fix my mittens and adjust my hat. I remember being the cryer.
But I also remember the sensation of all things new, bright, white, soft. Snow makes ordinary an adventure.
Over the last few days, I watched both my boys revel in the beauty of winter. Their joy of simply throwing snow, gliding in a sled, seeing the big plow truck go by. Their giggles glistening like the sun struck snow.
To be a parent in winter is to do all the work, but it’s also a return to a simple joy, a pleasure in play, a participation in the stillness of snow.
To be a parent in winter is to throw caution to the wind and to play like a child.
It also means using hot cocoa as a bribe to go in.