Winter is here. The outside temperature has not risen above 25 in the last three days. Snow is not melting. It will warm up again before it settles down to these frigid temperatures again for months. But for now, winter is here.
There are other signs of winter besides the cold.
There are sniffling runny noses, headaches from the wicked temperature changes, long dark evenings that leave everyone searching for something to do-inside. There are people inside this house who are constantly wrapped in at least three layers of clothing and can be found, when time allows, covered up under a ginormous blanket in the living room where it is supposedly warmer than elsewhere in our baseboard heater heated house with old, single plane windows that are not weather proof.
We have cabin fever already. The summer was spent outside. We lived and breathed it. We let the laundry and the dishes pile up so we could be adventurous. So now, when we need to be heading in around 4:45 because the sun is coming down we are left with a restlessness to get back outside and explore some more, play some more, run free some more. We are left to turn the house into our adventuresome escape instead of the wild mountains. The toy box becomes a boat. The kitchen floor becomes grass on which to sit and picnic. The couch becomes a mountain that must be scaled. The top of the mountain must be jumped off of to catch the bear who is running away.
The pent up energy is released. In part.
The other part is released in whining. When the 'bear' doesn't do exactly what the 'captor' wants. When the picnic blanket is not perfectly laid out. When there is only room for one in the boat, but two want in. Whining happens. In loud obnoxious amounts. Fighting happens. Hair pulling happens. Pushing. Shoving. Sometimes biting happens.
This doesn't happen outside. Not where there is enough space for everyone.
The playing is encouraged. The imagination pushed to limits not otherwise thought capable 'What if we make another boat out of this rug and then there are TWO boats and Bubs can help you sail away from the crocodiles?' 'What if Bubs is just trying to start a dance? Could you get up and dance with him?' 'What if you take turns being the 'bear' and the 'captor' so then you can do what you want?'
Most of the time 'OH! That's a great idea! I like it.' is what I hear in response to my attempt at opening the imagination.
Daddy is working long hours. And lots of them. We don't see him for days in a row. And we MISS him. Daddy is the only one who can kiss bloody hands. The only one who can comfort and play. The only one that this posse wants. Which is wonderful.
But it is still exhausting. The colds, the fighting, the darkness, the longing for a person who is not here.
So yesterday when I heard 'Momma, my belly hurts. I just want to snuggle with you on the couch for quiet time' I put my 'I am the mom. I make the rules. You don't get to manipulate me by being cute' hat to the side. I scooped that girl up. I held her and snuggled her. She breathed deeply, soundly, rhythmically. I thought she was asleep-which has happened ONCE before in her tiny life. She cannot fall asleep with anyone holding her-she needs her own space. YES. Even as a two week old.
She looked up and said 'I just love my daddy'.
Looked back down and actually fell asleep.
And for the moment it was just me and her.
Just like before. In the womb. No words. Only touch. The deep deep knowing between a mother and child. I know her. She knows me-in a way I'm sure I do not know myself. I dozed off. And we slept. We breathed.
The moment held us. No thoughts about the next fight. Or how she would elbow my face and stand on my stomach and refuse to dress herself (even though she is entirely capable) and spill dinner all over herself and the floor and the struggles we would face this morning trying to get out the door.
These are the moments that I cling to. Our parenting journey has been a wild ride. One, that honestly, we wanted to hop off of in the beginning. It was moving way too fast and way too intensely. But we are coming down from that stage into a new one. It's still intense. It will always be. But we have built up so many of these moments. Moments that have held us and reassured us and spoke to us and whispered and built. And when things are ugly and intense and generally unpleasant (a great majority of the time) there is this pensive of sorts we have to draw on and remember who we have the pleasure and honor of knowing and parenting.
(although I really do wish I had an ACTUAL pensive because that would be amazing!!! And so helpful.)
We will face this winter like every other-get outside during the day as much as possible-play hard inside as much as possible-and make moments to remember for when things get ugly.