Monday, December 09, 2013

Dark and Light

Late last week a cold snap hit. Whereas over Thanksgiving weekend I'd been out walking in just a light fleece jacket and earband, by last Thursday the windchills were solidly in the two-digits-below-zero range. The air temp struggled to reach a daily "high" of two or three degrees from Thursday through Saturday.

This type of weather makes me feel trapped (because I detest going out in it, and definitely won't run outside in it), lonely (because I'm not seeing anyone anywhere, because I'm not going out), and hopeless. It's bad enough when it comes in January or February, when it's expected, and when winter is partway over, but when it comes in early December (not even calendar winter yet, although no one here goes by that) it's especially hard to take.

Plus Nelson Mandela died last week, which, despite his advanced age and ill health, was just very sad.

But then my kiddos came home from school on Friday.

Friday was one of the days I provide part-time childcare for two of their friends, and all four kids insisted on racing outside after snack, to "sled" on the bare dusting of icy snow on the frozen grass on our backyard hill.

I dug the sleds and snowboard out of the garage, they bundled up, and out they went. I could hear the squeals and peals of laughter from inside where I watched and took photos (because no way was I going out there in ten below zero windchills, people!).

It made me so happy to watch them, to have them home from school to fill and warm the house with the sound of their voices and laughter. After school is always my favorite time of day--especially when our friends are over and everyone's having fun and playing with each other. It's like balm for the soul, even (especially) on a frigid winter day that, only hours before, had felt brutal and lonely.

It made me sad, though, too, to feel that, because it made me miss having littles in the house all day, and that made me feel a pang of very real regret: Guess I should have had a third baby. Because, despite the on-and-off challenges of constant kid-care during the times of year when school is out, in general my happiest times by far are when my kidlets are with me. And now they're big, and they're not with me very much anymore--during the school year, anyway. (Which is the reason I actually DO love all that constant kid-care in the summer!)

Very often, emotions are not rational, of course. I know that eventually baby number three would grow up and go off to school all day too, and leave me in the same boat I'm in now; I get that.

Loneliness and regret are terrible feelings. So for the rest of the weekend I did everything I could to stomp them out--or, at least, distract myself from them.

I painted salt-dough Christmas ornaments with Genevieve and her delightful BFF during a playdate.

I went to mother-daughter book club with Julia.

I took the girls to swimming lessons.

And the girls and I made gingerbread men together--an hours-long project that involves rolling out the dough (which I'd made in advance), cutting out the shapes, baking and cooling them, whipping up some homemade icing, and then extravagantly frosting and decorating our creations while listening to Christmas music and nibbling on stray chocolate chips, M&Ms, and mini-marshmallows.

As is her wont, Genevieve once again subscribed to the "more is more" philosophy of cookie-decorating:

And in the end we were overflowing with the sweetness of it all. In every way.

Thank goodness for a little light in the darkness of winter.

Which reminds me, too, of my all-time favorite of the "poems of the week" Julia's class memorized every week in first grade, which seems like a good way to end this post about dark and light, sadness and sweetness.

It goes like this:

I Heard a Bird Sing
 by Oliver Herford

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.
'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,"
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

Joy to you, fellow mamas and friends--even when it's dark and cold. Look for the light.

1 comment:

Mnmom said...

Great poem!
I know too well those feelings. I miss my little girls so much it's painful.