Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Snow Days and Enough

I realized new year or not, I usually walk around packed to the gills with resolves: to spend less on groceries, to stop half-playing pretend with Eden but get down on the floor, to make a vat of yogurt and start baking bread, to wake up early and surrender the day, to go to sleep earlier, to drink less wine or more water, to go to yoga or on walks or runs, to call California, to find a juice bar that doesn't cost my life's savings, to have a date or a double date, to bite my tongue, to catch  up on movies or books or just reading the paper, to let the house stay messy or to clean it thoroughly, not to raise my voice, to breathe from my belly, to stretch, to sing, to make more art with the kids, to write, to structure the day so we're unhurried, to pick up carpet swatches, to have longer good nights.

When I read this list to Ben he said, that's a great list, and I laughed because when I read the list I felt crushed by all to do and be.  I have questions this January about how to get out from under the pressures I create and live more freely.  I'd love to make big-picture goals for how we're living -- the list above could be boiled down to a couple -- rather than choking checklists of demands.

Snow days might be a great example of how I lose perspective.

Somewhere along the way, I picked up some romantic notions about what a snow day *should* look like: snuggled in the house, hot chocolate, paints, papers, pastels, crayons, glue sticks, all over the table, a fire crackling (we have no working fireplaces), games and books and conversations in forts.

If there isn't really snow on the snow day because we live in Washington DC, the pressure gusts in as a free wide open day to pile in the car and head downtown to climb over slippery marble monuments in our snow boots, or stand and throw sticks into the river, or tromp through a museum.
In short, I seem to think snow days are like birthdays, a day (with no advance notice) to create magic for the kids.

Instead what happens is Silas and Eden deck themselves out in snow gear and sled down the 5' slight dirt incline out back until they are literally scraping the sled down mud and their mittens are soaked through.  Then they smear through the door and leave a giant pile of soggy muddy clothes and boots on the floor.  We make some hot chocolate but don't have any marshmallows, and, it turns out, they don't really feel like doing anything I suggest except maybe building a fort, but it was more the notion of a fort that sounded good to me because in reality I don't want to drag all the bedspreads to the basement and try to make them stick to the couch arms by myself.  So we sit around.  In no time they are happily curled up to the heater vents like little cats, but I start feeling the breath-on-my-neck-pressure to TAKE us all somewhere and not waste the day ("waste").  But, really, the thought of putting wet coats on and wedging Maeve's feet into snow boots she can stand but not walk in and putting socks on her hands to keep them warm (ha!), and joining the DC drivers on Mass Ave. does not appeal.

So I start being generally mean to everyone because I feel like I've failed.

The ridiculous part is that I've only failed me, and the only part of the day that's wasted is mine.  No one else had a list of expectations for "a worthy day."  It's a snow day!  I was trying to remember snow days growing up: I remember sitting riveted by the radio early in the morning waiting for Q107 to announce the school closings.  And I remember sledding with friends, but that's really it.  Maybe we made some Swiss Miss with mini marshmallows, but mostly we just sat around happy because DC is a sucker for tiny snowfalls, and that fact alone was enough.

I think I miss what's enough sometimes because of some picture I've created (or seen on pinterest or in Sunset magazine or in my friend's living room or _fill in the blank_) -- losing the forest for the trees, we call that.

So as far as resolutions go, the big picture kind, in 2014 I'd like to see the enough's.  And I'd like to look long enough to see they're often overflowing...

1 comment:

Joan said...

The concept of enough is one we all need in our lives Bron. Well written. You spoke for many of us. xo