Katy, my eleven year old, left for a ski weekend with some family friends tonight.

I dropped her off about nine pm. She packed her own bag. I remembered the toothbrush.

I got home and found the leash. I slipped the clip thru her collar and led Sophie The Sweet outside. I was surprised- she did not pause when she saw that the snow, and the sleet, and the sidewalks lined with sharp salt crystals- it was all still out there. Tonight, she led the way.

I’ve a head cold for weeks, tonight it felt like there was a spike stuck thru the middle of my forehead. I put on O. A. R. on Spotify. Snow started to fall. We walked down the middle of the street, Sophie and I. The flakes glowed in the dark and took their time on the way down. It was only 9:30 but the houses were dark, and the cars were all parked and cold in their driveways . It was our world, our black, white, and wet world. As my headache fell away, I turned up the music.

We went around the block about three times, which is a record for us. Lately, Sophie wonders everyday when we are going to move to Florida or at the very least, invest in a litter box the size of our guest bathroom.

I miss Katy, and I have the feeling that the next couple of years, I’m going to missing both my kids a lot.

At the same time, I hope there’s time for me to know them, in between games and tests and snapchats and swim meets and all of the stuff that has already started to pull them away.

I want to know what their favorite music is, and what they like to eat, and how much sleep they need and what makes them laugh. Because I think these things have begun to change and I know in many cases, I will be the last to know a lot, but I do want to know.

I hope I can send them away when it’s time, with grace and a little bit of me, but not too soon. And I hope I don’t try to hold on.

But that when I want to, I hope I know to find the leash, and to slip the the clip thru the collar.

I’ll wait for Sophie to gather herself and lead me outside.

And I’ll walk, and sing along to the music, and let time pass while I circle the block. And I”ll let time pass while Sophie and I circle the block without looking at my watch, or wishing that it would just stop.

Sophie prays

My son was due at a game at 8, so we left at 7:30. The Parish where his team plays is only a mile away, but he wanted Gatorade and I wanted to take my time.

When I tried to pull out of the driveway, I got stuck in a snow drift. I gunned the engine. I spun the wheel. I tried to reverse. I spun the wheel. I snarled at Colin to get out of the car and “do something.”

He hopped out, ran to my side of the car, watched my wheel spin in mountain of ice and more ice, thru his hands up in the air.

I told him to get back in the car.

Well, I didn’t tell him anything. I think I honked, twice.

He got in, eyes looked straight forward. I gunned the engine, hit reverse, thru the car into drive and somehow, something somewhere gave. The car rocked forward, then shot back, straight into a snow bank six feet high.

I put my foot on the gas, and we lurched forward towards the gas station, toward the church, toward all the other mini vans shuttling their boys to the game on a night that really should have seen everyone home wearing flannel or footsie pajamas.

I said- “Colin, you gotta believe in me. I’m a complete bad ass!”

I had broken a wall of snow and ice. I had conquered my minivan and made it my b^&*ch.

“Mom, bad asses don’t tell people their bad asses.”

All of the sudden, there I was.- a suburban mom in a 2008 Dodge Caravan with an unfortunate predilection for listening to Eminem at the gym.

I dropped him off and wished him luck.

So maybe driving in the snow doesn’t make me tough.

But I got him to his game on time. And I didn’t bang my fists on the steering wheel, or curse New England in February or try to run over a squirrel.

So maybe I’m not a bad ass.

But this winter has made me fierce as hell.

Bring. It. On.

About a Week Before Christmas

December 18, 2013

The snow started about 2 pm today. By three I was on the phone with my boss checking to see if the Christmas party had been cancelled. It wasn’t. By four, I was trying to talk Sophie, the Dog that Would Really Like to Live In Miami, into going outside. By 5, both kids were with friends and I decided to have peanuts for dinner in honor of the party I was missing.

And at 7:30, under a snowy sky, I was standing on top of a very small hill wishing that I had mittens. Night sledding. The kids came home, and when they tripped over the snowboards left piled up by the back door, a brilliant idea was born. Night sledding.

I’ve never taken a ride on virgin snow. It’s puffy, not very slick, it kind of felt like the sled had had a little to much eggnog on the ride down.

We had only four of them, and there were five of us, so there was a certain amount of negotiation. Between the kids. I didn’t have to negotiate. I drove the car, and, they assumed, would make the hot chocolate when we got home. That gives a woman a few privileges.

“Katy, do you want to make snow angels?” Tue had spilled from the sled onto her back and was inspired.
“No, I didn’t come here to make snow angels,” Katy said, then snatched the sled from Tue. “But you can make snow angels,” she said sweetly.
“Mom, put your feed on the sled. Stop dragging them. There you go… Wasn’t that fun? You want to ride down with me?” Colin offered right before smashing me in the face with a snowball.

He then pummeled Kate, who responded by falling over and mewling like a kitten. An angry, wet kitten.

We slid down, we staggered up. Enough times that I didn’t even have to mention hot chocolate when I said it was time to head home.

In the car, in the quiet of heavy breath and windshields wiping “Ol Fifty Five” by Tom Waits came on the radio.

“As I pulled away slowly, feeling so holy, oh Lord, I was feeling alive.”
Merry Christmas and to all A Good Night.

My feet are cold. They are still stuck inside the long, brown, polka dotted boots I wear for shoveling. The socks are a little wet, and the jeans I tucked inside the boots are also a little wet.  This explains why my feet are cold, but not why I’m still wearing the damn boots.

It is the tail end of another “snow event”. In other words, it’s still snowing. In about twenty minutes, I will head back outside in my quest to clear a path along our thirty feet of sidewalk. It snowed a lot, two feet I think, so the walls of white along the path are about three feet high. I am proud to be the one that built those walls of snow, me and my shovel make a helluva team.

Colin and Katy started their snow day out in the kitchen, making pancakes. Katy is nine, Colin is twelve. This was their first attempt at creating a breakfast that didn’t come out of a box or a bag of bread. I chose to stay out of the kitchen,  I stayed on the sofa and listened to the process.  

“I don’t know Colin, do you really think we should add two eggs? The box says to add one.”  “Katy, what did you DO with the spatula?” “Why do you think I did something to the spatula. I don’t even know where mom keeps the spatula, I don’t even know what COLOR the spatula is… Sophie!!!! Put that down!!!”

For about 2 minutes I listen to both of my children chase Sophie the Wonder Pup, as she flies around our dining room, spatula firmly planted between her jaws. Then I hear- “Sophie… treats.” Katy is using her sweetest voice, the one that promises wonderful, wonderful delectable morsels. I almost got up to go see what she offered.

About ten minutes after the spatula was recovered by my daughter’s feminine wiles, and some old slices of turkey, the first batch was done. Colin called out “Orders up.” Katy stood at the refrigerator and asked me- “What’s your poison?” meaning did I want milk or orange juice. When did my kids begin to talk like short order cooks or bartenders? Why didn’t they bug me to make french toast?

 Most snow days, we tackle the driveway and the sidewalks together. We argue over who gets which shovel, and wears the gloves that don’t match. We throw snow balls, and there comes a time where I have to institute a cease fire because one hits Katy to hard in the head.

But today, I felt like I could handle the job on my own. While I listened to them make breakfast, watched them serve breakfast, marveled at them cleaning up after breakfast… it occurred to me that maybe they deserved a break. And maybe I needed a few minutes outside by myself to get used to the idea that Colin and Katy are growing up.

The driveway is done. The sidewalk and the stairs up to our house are clear. I’m a gym rat, and I like the fact that I am strong enough to do all this work, to shift mountains of snow from one spot to another, without pause.

But I saved the other side, the sidewalk on Franklin. I have laid out our collective mittens, found a few extra shovels, and we are going to finish it up together. There will be snow balls thrown, and endless negotiations about who gets which shovel, and whether we should clear in front of the neighbors house. And if we still like each other when we are done, and can still feel our toes, I’m thinking this snow is the right kind for building a snow man.

I’ll see what they think. I am hopeful that they are still young enough to be bribed with hot chocolate, especially if I still have my stash of the right kind of marshmellows.