It will come as no surprise to those of you with children, adults, and others who have reached a certain level of engagement with the modern world that some moments in life that once held an inestimable joy no longer measure up and have become what some might consider a burden. The joy of snuggling deep into the covers on a Saturday or Sunday morning; the excitement of anticipation as the snow piles up the evening before a school day; allowing yourself 4 more minutes in the shower just because it’s warm; all of these things are gone for me.
We’ve had a good share of snow this winter. I write this as I’m guiltily indulging in my resting half of the morning which would ordinarily have seen me at work if not for the foot of snow on the ground and the bitterly cold chill that defiantly spites the sun which has made an unexpected appearance. “Resting half,” you say? What is this? Well, my wife, C, and I engage in what can only be seen as tag team parenting on mornings where we don’t have to be somewhere in order to have some free time to ourselves and not be arrested for killing our children. Also, our children do not understand the concept of sleeping in. My son was up at 5:48 this morning after repeatedly waking up last night between the hours of 8 and 12 to ask for milk, snuggles, and a variety of other bedtime stalling activities. It is no wonder that some animals eat their own young. If I thought mine were bacon-flavored, I’d be tempted myself. Anyway, some might see this as lazy parenting, allowing one spouse to bear the brunt of the household chaos while the other luxuriates in relative freedom. I call it self-preservation as I’ve spent the better part of the last half hour listening to pounding footsteps, screaming, crying, and muffled children’s television…and that’s probably just from my wife. And, I did say I was guiltily indulging…it’s not necessarily fun to lounge around in my pjs listening to my wife try to maintain some sense of order in the house, but in fairness, I had nearly three hours of the same experience before she took over.
However, all of this allows me to harken back to my own childhood when I adored the concept of a snow day. A day free from pattern, structure, and expectation. It was a time when I could engage the world on my own terms without the restrictions of a typical day. Now, however, a snow day merely means that I’m forced into a role of entertainer for my children unless I’m being called upon to perform the manual labor of snow removal, something I never gave a thought to when I was younger. Snow should be for playing and wonder, not for toil and pain. And yet, here we are.
Since we are here, may I also comment on the fact that my time is no longer my own. Even the time I’m taking to write this is basically stolen from my wife. With each keystroke, I struggle with whether to continue or to go and save her from the howling of pent up monkeys who have been unleashed on the home because of inclement weather. This not only extends to now, but even the most mundane activities. This is the second snow day in a row, and I’ve lost count of when I showered last. I’m pretty sure it was Wednesday morning, but one never knows. When I was single, and even when I was newly married, it was not unlike me to spend longer in the shower on a cold day because I knew getting out would not only be an assault on the skin, it would be the start of the structure of the day. As long as I remained enveloped in the soft warmth of the spray, the mental healing of the steam, I was safe. Now, I hurry through a shower regardless of the temperature to comfort my son who dare not be less than an arm’s length away from either parent at any given moment, or to make sure that my daughter has adequate screen time with a show she’s probably seen more times than I care to count.
So, life moves on, but the simple joys have disappeared. The elation of tugging a blanket closer around my head; the enjoyment of sledding down a hill; the heat of staring into the flow of the shower; all are gone. And, now that my children have arrived in our room to tell me all of the obvious things of the last half hour, I leave you to your own devices.
See you in the funny papers!