Snow day . . . before Christmas . . . in the month of December—for the working mom or any mom, it might as well be a natural disaster.
I looked around my house at the projects planned for the day slowly drifting away as the reality of four kids at home set in. Boxes of Christmas decorations yet to be hung, laundry to be folded, groceries to be bought, meals to be planned, gifts to buy, cards to address, and emails piling up—each thought triggered a new wave of anxiety. And of course let’s not forget, kids to be fed every hour . . . on . . . the . . . hour.
I took a deep breath and tried to tackle that next right thing only to be interrupted.
“Can we go sledding?!” begged my 6-year-old, Carolina.
“Absolutely in a little while. How about a Christmas movie?”
“Yay! Will you watch it with us?”
“Yes, in just a bit.” But I knew they would forget, and I might have a chance at getting something done, which I did. But it didn’t take long until they were back.
“Can we pleeease go sledding?” whined my 8-year-old, Sofia.
“Yep, in just a little while. How about writing a letter to Santa?”
I knew my big kids would help the little ones, and I just might be able to clean out the fridge and answer a few emails, part of my usual Monday routine. Lucky for me, one thing led to another. They played, they drew, they fought, and played a little more as the day flew by. At one point, I glanced at the clock, and it was 4:30 p.m. The sun was setting as dusk fell gently casting blue-gray shadows on the newly fallen snow.
“Mama, can we go sledding NOW?”
It was now or never.
“Yes, of course! Get dressed and I will watch you from the window.”
“But mama, we want to go sledding with you.” Both little girls looked at me with their pleading eyes, big brown eyes, that I gave them.
I knew I had to go.
I paused. I looked around boxes still unpacked, dishes to be done, dinner not yet cooked, and newly fallen snow day mess abounding, but this time instead of my mental checklist on repeat, I heard something different. What I heard was the voice, that small voice that gently whispered, “How much longer will they want to do this with you?”
My mind raced to my almost 13-year-old, my first baby, who earlier that week disclosed to me she didn’t believe anymore and in fact, hadn’t for two years. I thought about her running downstairs early Christmas morning before any of her siblings were born, looking to see if the carrots and cookies she left out had been eaten. My heart ached deeply, palpably, for just a moment, but I quickly smiled and said, “Guess what you’re doing tonight?” and the newest elf was born.
Because it’s just that quick. And I’ve noticed the little whiles turn into tomorrows, and the tomorrows into weeks, and weeks into years, and it all happens in a blink. Everyone tells you this, but one day you begin to feel it, and it’s a feeling that stays for a long while.
Before you know it, they are taller than you, stronger than you, busier than you, and have more important things to do than you.
I began to realize this was not an I have to it was an I get to. Because there are thousands of women who pray they will get to and never do. Because even in December, families can’t buy, moms lose babies, single moms work late, chemo treatments continue, kids split holidays, and the ocean of grief only gets deeper.
So at that moment, I dropped everything, put on my boots, my gloves and hat, and we went. Because isn’t that what this season is about? Dropping everything to go and witness the extraordinary in the ordinary?
Isn’t that what they did?
As we made our way through the darkening shadows in the snow, climbing our backyard hill, I breathed in the cold, crisp air watching as they threw themselves down to create their own personal angels. Though their piercing laughter echoed loud through the bare trees lit by the rising moon, it was the most peaceful place on earth, and a moment for this mama to be still and take in the wonder and glory of my everyday miracle.
It was my silent night.
As I took a mental snapshot to be tucked away in corner of my Christmas memories, I knew they would remember this day, too. Because I can’t recall the gifts or the wrapping or the carefully placed ornaments of my childhood, but I will always remember the love and the laughter and the mess—the joyous, colorful, comforting post-Christmas mess that didn’t bother me one bit.
So drop everything and go.
Every chance you get while you have the chance.
Because the most extraordinary happened in the ordinary and still does today.
One thing I know, it will be your best yes yet.