How to Survive February in Seven Easy Steps

1. Get out of bed and get dressed. Every single morning.

Wait. “Getting dressed” implies that you are going to put on a pair of pants that does not have elastic at the waist. Something that zips or buttons. This is inappropriate for February. Basically, step one should just read, “Change out of your pajamas every day. Or, most days. Whenever you feel like it, really. Just try. No pressure though. Because it’s February.”

(People reading this that go to a place of employment every day are, right now, thinking to themselves, are you kidding me with this? I get dressed EVERY DAY. I feel your eyes rolling from where I sit, in my home, still wearing my pajamas. But, hear me out. I used to be like you. All tidy and respectable with brushed hair, wearing smart cardigans and dressy pants with belts. But, then I decided it would be a good idea to stay home every day and cater to each excruciatingly minute detail of the lives of three children for 13 straight hours without stopping for a break. Which, brings us full circle back to the explanation of why I lack motivation to change into pajama-adjacent clothing each morning. So, good on you for your job. I would cling to that employment like Rose-on-the-floating-wood-at-the-end-of-Titanic.)

2. When you look out your window and see a half of a foot of unmelted snow covered in a quarter of an inch of ice, just pretend it isn’t there.

IMG_7303

It’s as simple as that. Stand at your window and imagine better days to come. When the grass is turning green. When the trees are budding. When all of the birds are singing. When those weird insects that look like spiders but are really crickets return to the basement. When you can shed the fleece sweatshirt that your friends have seen you wear every day for three months. When your toes finally feel warm again. Days when your neighbors can once more hear you yelling at your children through windows opened to a warm mountain breeze.

It never has to be February in your imagination.

3. Come up with a handy list of activities your kids can do when the weather is too cold to go outside.

Knowing that February offers its fair share of frigid temperatures and extreme weather, sit down with your kids and brainstorm neat, fun and creative things to do INDOORS. Where you will be trapped. With your kids. For the entire month of February.

Kids are more likely to buy-in to your ideas when they are not actually your ideas at all but rather their ideas, carefully planted through psychological manipulation. This list of things can include Lincoln Logs, Matchbox cars, Geotrax, toy soldiers, Imaginext, Little People, Thomas the Train, Handy Manny, dolls, dollhouses, dress up bin, Hess trucks, Bruder, artwork, whatever it is they do with Nerf guns in the basement, Lego, Lego Star Wars, Lego Friends, Lego Chima, Lego Bionicle, Lego Duplo, Lego Ninjago, Lego Ultra Agents, Lego Super Heroes, or lastly, MAYBE, I DON’T KNOW, READ A BOOK OR SOMETHING?

Then, listen carefully as your children refute any and all creative play ideas unless that creative play idea is to go buy new legos at Target.

4. Don’t bury your despair in Girl Scout cookies like a bear preparing for hibernation.

Just don’t. It’s not worth the internal disgust you will feel after burning through that sleeve box of Trefoils. The only people that win in this situation are the Girl Scouts. They’re cute and all with their sashes and their sneaky sales tactics but they’re also solely responsible for the four pounds I’ve gained so far in February.

If you still feel like you have to support such a delicious, albeit obesity-promoting fundraiser, just buy Samoas because coconut is vile and no one will eat that crap.

5. When the weather forecast changes from an anticipated three to five inches of accumulating snow to only thunderstorms with torrential downpours and possible widespread flooding of low-lying areas, don’t let your family see you cry hot tears of joy.

Because you can send your kids to school in a torrential downpour. You will slip boots on their feet, cover their heads inadequately with the hoods of their sweatshirts, wish them the best of luck with the flooding thing and kick them out of the car at the school curb.

What you can not do, is send them to school when there is snow.

6. When your husband helpfully suggests that you take a walk or drink Gatorade (?) to shake your February blues, shoot him a look that lets him know you might actually kill him in his sleep later.

Have that look on standby for when you discover he’s turned down the heat when you weren’t looking and for all those times he turns off all of the lights right after you turn them on because those lights are the only things keeping you happy when it’s pitch black at 5:30 in the evening.

7. Think about doing any or all of the following:

  • Exercising on the treadmill in the basement
  • Organizing something
  • Cleaning something
  • Showering
  • Taking some Vitamin D
  • Folding that giant stack of laundry sitting in the chair in the corner of your bedroom

Quickly decide it’s better to just wait for spring to arrive and crawl in bed to binge-watch Netflix instead.

Advertisements

On Time

I always imagine my father as looking exactly like he looked when I left home for college more than twenty years ago. When I think of him, it’s like my mind only recalls an image of him as he was decades ago, when we last spent a considerable amount of time together. Back before I graduated from high school and before I ventured out as a young adult. It’s such an odd phenomenon but when I chat with him on the phone, I don’t picture the older man he is now. Like a trick of the mind, I only see the younger version. The version of my father in his early fifties. Wearing that one jacket he liked with a button-down shirt and sporting a mustache.

I know I can’t be the only one that this happens to because others have the same reaction to seeing my children for the first time in a long while. They remark at how grown my three kids are. How much they’ve changed. How much older they are. In some ways, it’s like that with my parents. I’m not around them often so when I visit with them, it takes a minute to register that they’re no longer the younger versions of themselves. My father is no longer fifty-three and a mechanical engineer. He’s seventy-six and paints landscapes in his retirement.

I always finish one visit with my parents focused on scheduling another one. So, I study my calendar and coordinate times with my sister and plan my visits and we are all so busy and someone inevitably gets sick and months go by and then half of a year passes and I see them once again and I think, oh, that’s right. They are older now.

Time is funny in that it tricks you. Tricks you into thinking you have more of it than you really do.

1056700-R02-147 copy

Bob’s mom has died. He spent Christmas with her in December. Then, a little more than a week later, she fell. A week after that, she was gone. Just like that. That quickly. Heartbreakingly fast. It was her time and we are aching in her absence.

She was a tremendous mother to Bob, guiding and supporting him through some of the most important transitions in his life. She was a rock for him during times of struggle or unhappiness or indecision. She was deeply, deeply loved. I didn’t know her back then, all those years ago. I only knew her later. Bob used to bemoan that fact, saying, “I wish you could have seen her in the earlier years.” I wish that, too. But, it’s okay. I met Bob and I met his mom at exactly the right time.

There’s a bench in her kitchen. In the kitchen that Bob’s dad built and which served as the heart of their family home for sixty years. The bench being in the same spot for most, if not all, of that time. I used to sit on that bench during our visits to New York and watch Bob’s mom shuffle about the kitchen, back and forth between the pantry and the stove and the sink, preparing food for us, for others, for a potluck we were all headed to. Everything in that kitchen had a home. The utensils in easy reach hanging from hooks on the side of the refrigerator. The pots and pans in their designated spots on the pantry walls. Compact and utterly efficient and still looking the same after decades of use.

That kitchen is such a comfortable place to be. I can hear the sound of her bare feet skimming the tile floor and can see the shine of the gold ankle bracelet she wore and I can remember the way she would tuck her fingers into her hair when she was calculating a measure or reading through a recipe card. That’s where we connected best in the time that I knew her. In that kitchen.

I will miss her and I will miss her kitchen. A space filled with a lifetime of meaningful tchotchkes and little figurines and framed Mother’s Day cards and Irish quotes and dried flowers and a refrigerator covered in photos and a cabinet full of I heart grandma coffee mugs. I used to love to walk around looking at each and every little thing that held such meaning for her. Studying the things she adored.

They were all symbols. Symbols of time and of a life. A life well lived.