February 3, 2015
I didn’t even realize that Linus was on his way. A mere 18 or so hours before his arrival, my friend alerted me to the fact that we were in fact going to be getting some snow the next day. I had actually just been thinking about how Chicago was not living up to what, in my mind, qualified as a legitimate winter. It’s been cold, yes, bitterly cold, in fact. But we haven’t seen much of the white stuff.
We have now. 18 or 19 inches. Linus showed up just like the weather people said he would. He came quietly and with very small, fine flakes, so quietly that I did’t realize he was here until I suited up to head out to hopefully buy some sleds for the following day. Four stores, more flakes, a gallon of milk and a forgotten bottled of listerine later, and I still had found no sleds. But a kind soul saw my post on Instagram and lent us one of her sleds the next morning, so all was well.
Linus did not stop dumping on us for a solid 28 hours or so. And I, as a stay at home mom, just thought it was fantastic. It doesn’t escape me that snow is merely crystalized water, basic and everyday elements, yet it somehow is also made of magic. Even Sophie, at barely one years old, caught on to the excitement. When I heard her customary yells to alert me that she is ready to be taken out of her crib thanks very much, I swung the door open and was greeted by the usual poopy smell while telling her that it’s snowing Soph! I raced her to the front windows and pressed her face against the glass. She took a moment to let it register then promptly began yelling and banging and it was confirmed that snow is indeed a magical thing. The next moment confirmed that I really needed to change her diaper.
We ate pancakes and the big kids clinked their orange juice glasses and before I could get my act together to get us all outside, Sophie was letting me know she was ready for her morning nap with big, adorable eye rubs. I wanted to take all three of them outside, but it’s a good thing that my plans didn’t work out. Linus was a full on actual blizzard, and Sophie doesn’t have boots. Not that I would’ve let her walk anyway, she stumbles around like a drunken old man half the time on our wooden floors, I can’t imagine she would’ve fared too well in blizzard conditions. So, had I had to carry Sophie, petite as she is, I imagine 17ish extra pounds in my arms with a whipping wind in my face and inches piling around my feet wouldn’t have been too fun. Not to mention that Theo cannot keep his mittens on for more than 3 consecutive minutes. Juggling her while trying to get Theo to focus on putting his thumb into the only ice riddled finger slot there is would’ve probably caused me to abort the whole damn mission. The mission being: sled and frolic and soak in all that magic!
I always hype things up in the my head. We did end up being able to sled but it was cold and I was cranky and the only thing soaking was my socks. I did enjoy watching them have fun and scream and grin as they flopped down the hill, that’s true. But I knew as soon as I said it was time to go, I’d be met with resistance and tears and whines. And I just wasn’t in the mood. I haven’t really be in the mood at all lately, I’ve been short and mean and Theo has told me more than once that he doesn’t love me. He always very quickly takes it back, I can see the panic set in as soon as he says it, and I realize he must think like me: what if that’s the last thing she hears from me?! Or maybe he’s just thinking: she’s going to take my planes and transformers unless I take that back! Either way, we’ve had very few naps from the big kids and very few real smiles from mommy around here the last few days, which makes for just crankiness all around.
Yesterday wasn’t much better. I was mean and not very fun and I didn’t get excited about their fort. Sometimes I look at their tired red cheeks as the tears well up and think that I really must be the worst and meanest mom ever. I don’t even think Theo meant to throw the snow on Sophie, but when it landed on her I just lost it on him.
After we spent about 20 minutes outside, most of which I spent dragging a double stroller through slop and grey snow (the goal was the bank, but we never made it), I followed a crying Theo with cold hands up the stairs and had him sit on the stairs while I violently pulled on his boot with one hand and held Sophie like a football in the other. After the second or third yank and him not giving me any resistance at all with which to pull against, I let out a loud and definite “FUCK.” I was done. Theo got quiet. He said, “Mom, you just said FUCK. That’s a bad word.” Evie comes up the stairs behind us, letting us know that she was ready to come inside. As if she had a choice. “Evie, mommy just said FUCK.” On the one hand, hearing a chubby three year old say the F bomb with such conviction and clarity and gravity is kind of funny, it was like a role reversal where I was the naughty kid and he was the responsible parent. On the other hand, I just said fuck in front of my three year old. The thing is, I don’t even cuss that much. It just doesn’t sound honest coming from me, it comes off as me trying to be rebellious or something when in reality, I usually yell out FUDGE COOKIES! when I stub my toe. I took a deep breath, confirmed to my kids that yes, that is a bad word and no, mommy should not say it. And then I let it go. Because if I kept talking about it they’d remember the word.
This wasn’t even supposed to be about the hard days and the ugly, desperate moments as a mom, as a person. I really just wanted to tell you guys about Linus and how I become like a kid again when the snow starts falling. Because Linus was fun and exciting and I really am glad I got to take Ev and Theo out in it. I’m glad we got to stop for hot chocolate and our customary Sunday doughnuts on the way home. But I guess this is also about how sometimes, at certain moments, even magic can be pretty unmagical in real life. Somehow this is about putting down what’s in my heart and knowing that it might not make sense to you, but hoping that it resonates with someone. “…and hope, as Chesterton said, is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate. Writing can be a pretty desperate endeavor, because it is about some of our deepest needs: our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up and grow and belong.” (Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird)
Yea. That’s the crux of what I think is swirling around inside of me, much like Linus was inside of Chicago.