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Last Wednesday I sat down and started a blog post with this: We’re having a snow day in North Carolina, which will inevitably spread into at least two snow days, and possibly three, because we really like to play things cautiously around here. And it only makes sense that Mother Nature would decide to give us such a gift for Martin Luther King’s birthday, because, you know, no school two Mondays in a row already on the calendar wasn’t really enough.

This is as far as I got. It turns out, we had an entire snow week, as predicted, and then didn’t, again, have school this Monday for a pre-scheduled mandatory teacher work day, which had stupidly not been slated as a potential snow-day make-up day.

Snow, without a mountain, is fun for exactly one day.

For exactly one day I don’t mind digging out the bibs and boots, and painstakingly working ten tiny fingers into too-big gloves. These are the same gloves which will fall off the minute the tiny hand reaches its first grasp of frozen cotton candy, and at least ten more times after that until the tiny hand finally goes numb.

snow day

For exactly one day, I nostalgically lounge in sweats and my Uggs from 2005, the ones I’ve attempted to get rid for several years now, and end up keeping just for such days. For exactly one day, I might even myself don a pair of snow pants and winter boots and trek outside to watch and take a few pictures of my kids. I nearly always have something ready for the crockpot and I nearly always have a half empty tin of powdered hot chocolate, and for exactly one day, I relish the opportunity to join the rest of the world in a giant pause.

We pause because it is quiet and beautiful and majestic and dare I say inspiring. But we also pause because it is nostalgic and all of us, even the parents juggling multiple children and possibly work and the uncertainty of the next day, relish just one day of feeling like a kid again. And truthfully, many of us pause because everyone else has paused, and though the 24-hour Walmart stays open, sometimes the 24-hour Harris Teeter does not. The roads are dangerous but empty.

Inevitably, John wakes up no matter the amount of snow, makes the trek downtown, remarks on the surprise emptiness of things, puts in a few solid hours at the office (commenting that the phones are eerily quiet), and then comes home early to take the kids sledding. Because even court closes in North Carolina for some snow.

These are our rituals. For exactly one day.

By day two, I’m ready for whiskey at 10am and looking at the hottest day in July with utter longing.

I did not actually grow up in the south, and the bulk of my childhood winters were much longer than my childhood summers. I admit I laugh and scoff at the way of things around here. I do not make snow cream. I am 100% at peace with the fact that I have not participated in the building of a snowman in over a decade. And I flip through Facebook and Instagram feeds for a few days without any guilt or longing for the bliss my friends are experiencing alongside their children as they play in the snow.

Despite my northern roots, I do actually avoid getting in the car and driving anywhere until I can see the road at the end of my driveway. I have a front wheel drive minivan that isn’t paid off. You know I’m not risking an accident that will likely hurt or kill exactly no one except my pride and my wallet.

So here, I must pause, and thank God for a husband who intrinsically understands the value of critical memory-making moments. Can I also thank God for the role distinction that Daddy equals fun? Is it okay that I’m actually okay with being the not-fun parent?

I think it is okay.

I’m okay with it, anyway.

My dad was also the one, big surprise, who played with us in the snow. He was up for building snowmen and igloos, and rigging the top of our turtle sandbox to a rope behind his Jeep Cherokee and engaging us in what would forever be deemed “Turtle Topping” even long after the sandbox lid had died and we graduated to using a toboggan.

This toboggan, in fact:

toboggan sled
Lesson for my southern friends: this is what I mean when I say toboggan.

I should pause to credit my mother here for just a minute. She did ride along with a VHS camcorder on several of these excursions to document the opposite of helicopter-parenting for posterity. And knowing her now, as I do, I imagine this was with equal amounts hilarity and dread, because it was fun and it was was hilarious but it was also ridiculously stupid. And my dad was just the kind of man who laughed in the face of putting his four offspring in potential harm’s way, as long as fun was on the line.

Also, I’m not sure that my mom owned any snow pants.

This was exactly as acceptable to me then as it is now. I am, in fact, delighted about the freedom I feel toward my minimal participation in snow days in North Carolina, without fear that my children will grow up one day and blame me for a lack of fun in their childhood.

If their experience is anything like mine, they won’t even realize I wasn’t really part of it. And this is the only way I would have it.

Meanwhile, snow week was largely me losing my mind over incredibly tiny and insignificant kid things, because I had geared myself up for my usual nine hours of child-free time, and those nine hours were stolen from me last week. I know they will only be young once, dear ninety-year-old-reader-who-likes-to-remind-me-of-such-things. I will absolutely miss their cute pudgy red cheeks poking out from behind wet mouths and mismatched snow clothes. I will absolutely not miss the round-the-clock noise and neediness, nor the pile in my basement of things that now need to be washed and stored, nor the dripping of muddy melt at every entrance to the house, nor the whining, the fighting, the food prep and cleanup, nor the kind of hunger that is only born from boredom and schedule disruption.

Snow week was fun for exactly one day. And I made the most of that day. Then, I collected myself and began the process of re-scheduling the three dentist appointments I had written down in three different calendars but failed to show up for, the day before the snow hit. Failed because maybe I was losing my mind a little bit before it snowed, even. The process of rescheduling three doctors appointments (one mine) and the arduous and guilt-ridden task of pawning my children off on someone else during that appointment, because school was closed and I am a stay at home mom. This time, that someone else was John who put in two hours of double-duty at the Winston Salem Children’s Museum, because it was a day when neither of us could really swing things.

Forgive me for admitting that my psyche thrives on those nine hours of kid-free time each week. Forgive me for sacrificing what others might consider non negotiables to make the bulk of those nine hours all and only mine. Finally, forgive me for also admitting that I have a husband who gets this, and as a result takes virtually no time for himself the way I take time for myself.

This post took a somewhat serious turn there, and I am reluctant to hit publish on an entire page of what has become a blanket of self-wallowing. The truth is, my attempt to make a lighthearted jab at what amounts to a very common reality and struggle for many moms probably failed today, and I’m choosing to be okay with that.

I still love my kids. I mostly like my kids.

And because I express it far less often than I should, I’m ridiculously thankful for my partner in this life, who is more often than not, physically carrying the team because he is caring for me. Make no mistake kids, Daddy was the fun parent, but he did it because he loved me the best.

Snow Days in North Carolina

4 thoughts on “Snow Days in North Carolina

  • Nice post. As your mother, I “thank-you” for the validation. Yes. I actually owned snow “bibs.” The thing I hated the most was when you all came home from actual skiing – and dumped EVERYTHING in the laundry room to wait for the lady-who-did-the-laundry to show up and take care of it. She only came every other Tuesday.

    Oh. And it’s “don” … “don a pair of snow pants”…

    1. HAHA- Aunt Sarah, I love this! I’m sure some of our old winter gear is still hanging on the racks in my mom’s laundry room. – Your niece, Becky.

  • Beautiful post and tribute to John. You are quite the writer Claire!

    I had to laugh at your dad’s brilliant idea of pulling a toboggan behind the Jeep Cherokee. We too had such a brilliant idea. When Meg was three but couldn’t quite peddle her tricycle we tied the dog leash to it, with said dog, walked about 40 feet down the sidewalk and yelled “Come Lady!” It didn’t go well. Opps. These things make them stronger, right? 😉

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