I was never prone to the winter blues until I became a mother. Like any other born and bred Northeasterner, I would get the itch for spring sometime around late February, but I mostly took the cold, dark days in stride. I could never imagine life in a locale without four true seasons, and if subzero temps and high utility bills were the price to be paid for a crisp, glorious fall—then I'd happily make do.
And then I had kids.
Sure, at the start of December it's all sugar plum dreamy—the enchantment of the first glistening snowfall, afternoons spent cutting out paper snowflakes and cozy nights snuggled up with hot cocoa and books. But by mid-January the first signs of cabin fever creep in, and winter feels like one long, hard slog until the ground thaws and the heavy coats can be packed back in the attic.
In winter, I am the finder of perpetually lost mittens and hats, the coraller of wildlings who want no part in putting on the snow pants and boots necessary for any outdoor play—which typically only lasts about as long as it took to get suited and booted. Snow in the socks has a real way of bringing sledding to a screeching halt.
In winter, I am the crazy craft lady, frantically pinning any and all baking soda experiments and make-your-own play doh recipes in a valiant but inevitably futile effort to limit screen time.
In winter, I am the hapless drainer of bank accounts, shelling out buckets of cash for museum visits, aquarium passes, indoor gym time and countless coffee dates. Will your place of business entertain my child and get me out of the house for an hour? Here, take all my money.
And I think worst of all, in winter I am a slightly unhinged and criminally underslept ball of worry—caught in a vicious cycle of nursing sick kids, trying to protect my healthy kid from your sick kid, or trying to protect your healthy kid from my sick kid, all of which can only be accomplished by a state of self-imposed quarantine, ad infinitum. This last one is my true winter Achilles heel. (I should really invest in Kleenex stock and try to make some lemonade there…)
But in the spring, everything changes.
Like the proverbial butterfly emerging from the cocoon, I come out of hibernation to greet spring as a lighter, freer creature. Everything is easier in temperate weather, myself included.I am made buoyant by the increase in vitamin D and delighted by the decrease in doctor visits. The longer days are filled with the fresh air and exercise that makes for soundly sleeping children and well-rested parents. My rambunctious boys are busy getting reacquainted with Mother Nature and her splendor, and that magic is the kind of contagious I can get behind.
In spring, the windows are thrown open and the house stays cleaner. More time spent outdoors means less time inside trashing the just-vacuumed playroom.
In spring, gone are the parentally-coordinated playdates, set up over email or text and planned around when the house will be most fit for company. My boys take part in impromptu neighborhood games of driveway hockey, soccer and “catch the toad". It's like a beautiful sight from a bygone era, the way a suburban spring brings kids of all ages out to play together.
In spring, we plant our carefully tended seedlings into our raised-bed vegetable garden and watch each sprouting plant with fascination and awe. I never thought I'd see the day my 7-year-old would pluck raw pieces of kale right from the stem and declare it delicious. But such is the wonder of our backyard experiment.
And in spring, after the dinner dishes are cleared and my husband has taken up his post on tubby duty, I slip on my sneakers and headphones and go for long walks in my neighborhood, an activity that benefits my mental health as much as my physical.
Sometimes I listen to podcasts, sometimes I listen to music, and sometimes I listen only to the sounds of life around me—the birds chirping, the dogs barking, and the cheerful hellos of my fellow recently emerged parents-in-arms.
We have big smiles for one another as we blink our way back into the bright, welcome light of the world outside.
We made it, mamas. It's spring! ??☀️