If you told me a year ago that the impact of one snowstorm could land me on my floor crying, I would’ve questioned my sanity. And yet here we are.
I heard about the snowstorm. I prepared for the snowstorm (by having enough chicken nuggets and wine on hand). I was even excited for the kids when the flurries started to fall. But by noon on Monday, when it was clear that there would still be conference calls and work to do, and the kids were asking me for their third meal of the day, I had an immediate flashback. We couldn’t leave the house. My husband went to take calls from the car. By 3pm, my one year old drew all over my walls. And by dinner, I realized I never changed out of my pajamas. But it was ok, we survived the day. We even got to play in the snow for a while, have some hot chocolate, and pretend it was fun for everyone. I worked til midnight to make up for that fun, but that was ok. It was one day. It was worth it.
Then the snow day announcement came for Tuesday. Except now we had “remote learning.” And my husband was going to the office. And work obligations were carrying on. The panic set in. It has only been four weeks of “normalcy” in our house- with my daughter being in school 5 days a week. From September through December, it was a series of remote days, hybrid weeks, plans for full time return met with cases of covid and weeks of shut down. Truly nothing had felt stable until just a few weeks ago. And here we were, in the middle of a pandemic and the weather was going to be what made me crack.
By noon on Day 2, I was doing whatever I could to keep my little one busy. Including giving him a bucket of water beads, thinking it’d peak his interest long enough for me do one important call.
It kept his interest, but that’s only because he poured them all over my living room rug and then stepped on (and popped) all of them so they were forever now part of our flooring. I finished my call, looked up from my computer, and he just stood there. Half proud, half bracing for impact. I lost it. I had another call starting in 5 minutes and the damage was only going to get worse if I let him remain unattended.
I muddled through my next call with one eye on my screen and another eye on the remaining bouncy water beads. When I had my next break, I was faced with the real breakdown. The look in the eyes of my toddler who just had the most fun in his whole day met by my sadness, disappointment, and frustration. I got down on my knees to clean and ended up in a puddle of tears. My son just looked at me and said “Why mommy cry?”
There’s no silver lining here. The day didn’t end with some magic epiphany. I didn’t save the day with a homemade meal and some cuddles. In fact, it was followed by yet a third snow day- and my daughter out right refusing to participate in her class calls. I didn’t even have the energy to pick that battle.
I have spent the better part of a year holding it all together. Pretending that the constant game of jenga we play with our daily routines is nothing we can’t handle. Pretending – for the benefit of my children—that this is all just a blip on the radar and will be “over” soon. Pretending that we can do it all because we don’t have a choice. And then all it took was a few snowflakes, and I was all of a sudden a snowflake myself. Falling apart. Melting.
I’ll tell you what. It was eye opening in one way. It was a good reason to take a look at all the mental gymnastics we have put ourselves through- all for the sake of a good outlook – for the benefit of our kids. It was a gentle reminder that this year has been HARD. And it continues to be HARD. And anyone (including myself) who is pretending otherwise is not being realistic.
We continue to live in this constant state of wondering what tomorrow will hold. We are on edge, at all times-feeling like even the smallest of things could break us. It’s real and it’s scary, and the best thing we can do for each other is to acknowledge it, and talk about it, and go a little easier on ourselves. For the benefit of our kids.