11 Dec Giving In to Winter

As autumn here in the Midwest is slowly fading and most trees have lost their leaves, I have to face the inevitable: winter is approaching. Fast.

The thought of winter makes me cringe.

It was not always like that. Where I grew up there was just enough winter to get that wonderful cozy winter feeling. However, then I moved. Welcome to the Midwest–hello arctic survival mode.

For the last few winters I have tried to find as many excuses as I could come up with to spend most of the day indoors. Usually, my husband will gallantly volunteer to play outdoors with the kids. I am not sure he likes winter. I prefer not to know. I just reassure him it’s very manly of him to brave the weather.

First of all, winter here lasts forever. Ok, maybe not forever. Four months–give or take–is pretty darn long. Sure, it starts out all fairytale-like with a blanket of fresh white snow sparkling in the sun. In reality, most days are cloudy and gloomy. As I think of all the days ahead of scraping ice off my car windows, while freezing my butt off, I seriously wish I could crawl in a hole and hibernate until spring.

Second, winter is very, very cold. Trust me, when the thermometer has not been above freezing for a whole month straight, it gets old.

Third, winter means chaos, predominantly in my mudroom. The amount of gear and organizational skills that are required to survive winter never ceases to amaze me. Every year I have to verify my children have snow boots that fit and multiple hats, gloves (since they always lose a few), snow pants, snow jackets, you name it. Moreover, I have to do this preferably before winter starts. All this gear needs to get to school, after which, hopefully, comes back home as well. It often does not. Or it does, but it is just not the same pair of gloves they took to school.

As soon as winter sets in, I turn into a slouch. Instead of being active outside with my children and giving them long-lasting childhood winter fun memories, I give in to inertia. Denial is a skill, and I can always find more important things to do than taking care of my body. Spending time with my children, however, would qualify as one of those important things. And that’s when it hit me.

My kids don’t just want to play outside. They want to play outside with me. Do I really want them taking my example and spend most of their winter in front of the fireplace? Besides, how much longer will they still think it is cool to play with their mother?

I have come to realize that, where I live, trying to give winter the cold shoulder is just not a viable option. So, this year, I am going to start embracing winter. This winter, I will try to be a winter warrior. At least, I am going to give it my best effort. I will have snowball fights, do some sledding, make snowmen, and walk the kids home from the bus stop. I may get cold, but I know I will enjoy the time spent with my children and seeing the smiles on their faces. Moreover, maybe, just maybe, the time until spring will seem just a little less long this year.

Mother, writer and physician, who has lived in both Europe and US.
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