4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.
My four-year-old daughter said it to me this morning.
“What if this-” she gestured pathetically out the car window, “-is still here in June?”
And I felt for her. She is planning a fifth birthday party (Doc McStuffins theme) for June. Snow past her hips just doesn’t figure into it. And if there is THIS much snow now then June must be practically an eternity, positively a lifetime, away.
We drove past the fields where the horses all live. Their fences are buried beneath the snow and they are sequestered in a tiny loop at the entry to their paddocks that has apparently been shoveled by an exhausted horse owner.
“Where can the horses go?” she implored.
This I think is how my little one must feel. When we go sledding, she sits on the front of my sled. To return to the top of the hill she lays facedown in the sled gripping the front edge as I yank and pull her back up the hill. In order to go back in the house from playing in the snow she has to slide down the pile of snow until she reaches the porch (which is a three-step climb up from the grass in summer.)
“It’s almost impossible to imagine going to the beach right now, isn’t it?” I replied.
“Why is winter so much longer than summer?” she returned. She looked meaningfully at me.
But I have to admit. I love the seasons. I love the spring. I have grown to love the summer (it’s way better up in the great white north than it was in my sweaty New Jersey childhood), and fall might be my favorite, with a hint of all the best things from the other seasons combined. And winter. I still love winter.
I love how everything looks clean and fresh and polished after snowfall. Even the branches on the trees. All the garbage and the deflated soccer balls and the gopher holes that riddle our yard, they’re hidden under a downy blanket of white that sparkles like opal or pearls and undulates like a four-year-old’s fleshy belly.
The kids can’t believe that the soccer net is now entirely covered and they have all but given up trying to do anything on the swingset now that the actual seats of the swings are buried under a foot of compacted snow.
But the days, slowly they grow brighter. Today the temperatures are soaring to 30º F. Around the bend comes the spring thaw, flowing rivers of mud, dank, sad grass peering up through soggy patches framed in gray-brown snow. And then the first shoots from forgotten tulips and daffodils will poke through the muck.
We will speed dizzily towards summer, my paddle board, beach days, hermit crabs, sunscreen, perhaps a Doc McStuffins 5th birthday party. Barreling on to the return of school, the beginning of kindergarten, the leaves burning brightly before falling, the kids shivering gleefully at the mere thought of Santa.
The first snowfall.
You see? Without these seasons, then what? It would all slip by. They would learn about this cycle of cold, to warm, to hot, to chilled, then back again to cold, how then? How would they understand life without these dark dead days? That there is something under all that snow. That the birds haven’t really gone, merely gone to sleep, or on a short journey. That with the thaw, out of the gore, comes new life, to burst and sway and swing, before sagging in the noontime heat. Before bursting colorfully and dancing one last time in the breeze and then growing brittle, torn and tossed by gusts of wind in the coming chill.
This is the passage of time. This is the meaning of life. And it is both hidden beneath the snow and highlighted by the snow.
Some things are easy to love. Like Easter egg hunts and fresh spring days where you suddenly notice the birdsong and how it reawakens your prehistoric self when birdsong in the wilderness meant that all was well, that the hard part was over for now.
Or crisp fall days that smell of apple trees and bright blue skies. So easy to love. And of course, ocean breezes and gentle summer sun in the late afternoon when you set the picnic table for dinner, pipe the summer mix out the speakers, pour white wine.
But real magic is in loving even when the loving doesn’t come easy. Even when things are frustrating or redundant or disappointing or cold, cold, cold. There’s such glistening beauty in that deep, deep abiding love that bears all things. There is fire in loving in the face of desolation, in trusting in the thaw.
For now we race to put on our snow pants and boots, our damp mittens and hats, grab our sleds and stomp paths through the snow to the top of the hill. We glide and swoop and sometimes even race screaming, flying through the snow in our search for flight, in our embracing of now.