Snow and Behold

this winter has been ... um ... who cares anymore?

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Michelle Roberts

I believe the weather outside has transcended the physical reality we all share and experience here in northwestern Wisconsin. The weather has escaped its normal confines, and it has clearly invaded our collective emotional state. In other words, the weather is making life ... tricky. And I’m not talking about finding creative nooks and crannies into which we can shovel all the snow.

I’m talking about finding creative ways to keep our crap together.

On a cold, cold Saturday not too long ago, after spending way too much time cooped up in the house together, my daughter (who is 12) and I (who is over 40) were arguing. It was loud and tense and it had been building all day. Of course, I can’t even remember the original problem, but this little exchange went, as they say, down:

Me: DAUGHTER.

Daughter: WHAT.

Me: LISTEN I’M SORRY FOR BEING SO GRUMPY BUT YOU’RE NOT LISTENING TO ME. YOU NEED TO LISTEN BETTER.

Daughter: YOU SHOULDN’T SAY “BUT” WHEN YOU APOLOGIZE BECAUSE IT TAKES THE CREDIBILITY OUT OF THE APOLOGY.

Me: ...

Daughter: ...

Me: WHERE’D YOU HEAR THAT?

Daughter: IT WAS IN PARENTS MAGAZINE.

Me: ...

Daughter: ...

Me: WELL ... WHO WROTE THE ARTICLE?

Daughter: I DON’T KNOW!

Me: WELL THEY MIGHT NOT KNOW WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT. HOW WOULD YOU KNOW?

Daughter: ...

Me: RIGHT?

Daughter: FINE.

At this point, I huffed out of the room for about five minutes. Then I came back.

Me: ANYWAY YOU’RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT ABOUT NOT SAYING “BUT” WHEN YOU APOLOGIZE.

Daughter: ...

Me: I’M SORRY FOR BEING GRUMPY.

Daughter: FINE.

Me: OK FINE.

All caps is my default mode lately. And my point is this: It’s been a long winter.

It’s hard enough to hold it together on the 587th consecutive day of crazy snow and/or crazy cold. I don’t need my daughter becoming a better parent than me because she read all the books in the house and then reached for the nearest magazine.

It was hard to break the cycle of arguing that day. But I knew that if we didn’t, we’d be right back there tomorrow, basically screaming at each other over whether or not the cat enjoys being thrown at her brother. Or something equally important.

As I write this, more snow is falling from the sky. And I’m sick of hearing about all the snowfall records we’ve broken. I’m sick of seeing pictures of the deep trenches that used to be our sidewalks. I’m sick of unsolicited advice about ice dams and roof raking. And I’m sick of our snow-choked roads looking like a horror movie where everyone randomly abandons their cars as they flee from a mysterious evil.

I usually love winter. But this is stupid.

We can’t let it defeat our sanity. We need to find a way to carry on. This could be the greatest challenge we’ll ever face, and the one thing of which I’m certain is this: We must find a way to kick winter in the ass.

How? No idea. I don’t have any answers. I just know we need to get through this together. We’ll need courage. And determination. And a lot of hot coffee/tea/chocolate/alcohol. For the winter is dark and full of terrors.

I’ll see you on the other side.

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