The Hundred-and-Twenty-Seventh Letter: The Kind of Mom I’m Not

Dear Daughters,

A friend messaged me yesterday morning and asked if we–that is, the two of you and I–had been outside playing in the snow at all yet.

Because yesterday we woke up to a wet and wintry white mix of snow and slush on the ground.

At the very moment I was listening to her message, I was standing PJ-clad in the dining room with a cup of tea and a candle lit on the table and my fuzzy slippers on my feet.


Definitely not playing in the snow.

Definitely didn’t have any plans to.

The two of you, however, were already outside. Bundled up and squeezed into last year’s snow gear–I’m really hoping we can make it through another year–you were already tromping around the yard, eating snow, you told me later. You managed to make a snowman, tried to climb the new ladder your dad nailed to a tree in the yard, repeatedly went down the slide, and made “chocolate” slush.

I dutifully made you hot cocoa when you came in from playing, literally wet through all of your layers of clothing.

This morning, again we woke to snow, and this morning, again, you went outside to enjoy it before piano lessons. And this morning, again, I stayed inside.

This, girls, is what I want to say: I am so glad I don’t have to pretend to enjoy playing in the snow anymore.

I’m so glad you are old enough to be outside by yourselves and entertain one another.

I’m so glad you have each other.

But mostly I’m glad I get to stay inside.

I don’t even mind that you still need some assistance in the bundling up and the un-bundling when you come inside. (If your boots weren’t too tight, I think you could probably manage that on your own, but it requires sheer force at the moment to get them on and off.)

Don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy spending time with you. We spend a lot of time together. A lot. And not just because of the global pandemic. I will make art with you and read aloud to you all the live long day. There are many things I love to do, with you.

But I am not a snow-playing, sledding, snowperson-building mom.

Also, let it be known: I’m not an ocean-playing, sand-castle-building mom.

And while we’re at it: Nor a pool-playing mom.

It’s not like I can’t do those things, of course. I’ve successfully pretended to find joy doing them for many years, for your sake. Sigh.

When your dad’s around, he’s happy to do those things, thanks be to God. But when he’s not around, I’m so glad I can be honest with you now that you’re a wee bit older, and say, you know what, I’d rather not. You go have fun.

And you do.

There’s no huge moral lesson hidden here in this letter, girls. I just wanted it to be said: I’m glad I don’t have to pretend to be the kind of mom I’m not.


Your Momma

The Eighty-Fifth Letter: Snow Day


Dear Daughters,

There is no snow on the ground today, but the public schools called off because of potential ice hazards.

I heard the rain in the wee hours of the morning, the rain that was supposed to turn over to wintry mix and ice, and I couldn’t stop from checking my phone when I got up to go to the bathroom whether schools were cancelled.

That’s probably a weird compulsion, my wanting to know about cancellations that don’t really impact my life at all, other than the fact that our church activities get cancelled if school is called off on a Wednesday. But as a general rule, our family is not impacted by the public school cancellation policy. It’s one of the beautiful things about homeschooling.

But, still, I always check the delays and closings tab on the local news website because I have to know if schools are closing. It’s silly.

I think it’s probably because I remember what it’s like, that excitement of finding out school had been cancelled for the day. I remember lying in bed in the still-dark morning, trying to listen for the scrape of snow plows on our usually busy street where I grew up in central Pennsylvania. The traffic sounds were slower on those mornings, more muffled, but it was the scrape I was listening for.

I can still hear that sound clearly in my mind, even though here in Kentucky our street rarely gets plowed, and when it does, it’s usually a pick-up with a plow hooked onto it.

Y’all, it’s not the same thing.

Later you can tell me how mean I am about this, but I don’t actually give you snow days “off” this year. Not completely off at least. If there’s actual snow on the ground, I do let you take breaks to go play in it. And we make hot cocoa. And we spend a lot of time looking out the windows. Still, I make you do our minimum school activities of reading, piano practice, and having family readaloud time.

Even on “snow” days.

On Monday, I was brushing about an inch of light, super-fluffy snow off of the car to head to piano lessons. (Public schools had cancelled but the slush had already melted off the roads by 10 am.) As I cleared the car, I noticed just how beautiful the snow was. I could see the little crystals of snow stacked up with air between them, or so it looked to me as I fluffed them away with the broom.

When I pulled the car forward so that your door lined up with the sidewalk your dad had salted before he left for work, to keep you from traipsing through the snow, I was thinking about how rarely I have to drive in bad weather, and how my perspective about what constitutes “bad” weather has significantly changed since I was a teenager.

What I mean is, I’m a big wimp.

One time when I was in high school, after a two-hour delay, I was driving to school with my friend Olivia in the passenger seat. There was a lot of snow on the roads, way more than I would drive in now, and at one point, I pulled from a minor neighborhood road onto a busier street that headed down hill, and as I made that turn, the car just drifted right off the road into a snowbank on Olivia’s side. Well, first, the car glided completely out of my control into head-on traffic but then turned the other way and drifted into a snowbank without, thankfully, hitting any other cars. But there we were when the car came to a stop, us hyperventilating a bit, the car smushed into the snowbank.

I wonder if Olivia still remembers that one.

I wonder why the heck I was allowed to drive my car in that kind of weather.

I am pretty sure I would have a panic attack now if anyone asked me to drive with that much snow on the road. I am not exaggerating.

Because my perspective has changed. Also because I’m a wimp now. No shame.

During my undergraduate years at Houghton College, I can remember going out to my car, parked behind Walldorf House, and needing to clear more than a foot of snow off the top of it. Clear a path to the exhaust pipe, clear off the whole area around the drivers-side door, turn the car on so it would start melting ice as it warmed, and then the long slow process of pushing the heavy snow off the hood, the windshield, the roof. I have rarely seen snow like that as an adult. Thank goodness. My mental health is more stable because of it.

The problem really is that we moved to Texas the summer after we graduated from Houghton. And after four years in Texas, we moved to Kentucky, where we’ve been now for almost ten years. And okay, in Kentucky we occasionally get crazy ice but rarely the kind of snow I used to have to dig my car out of.

I won’t compare the quality of the roads or the abilities of the drivers by region because it isn’t fair. Kentucky’s resources for winter care of the roads are limited.

But I’m honestly happy to live in a place that basically shuts down at the threat of snow. The flexibility of our normal days, your schooling, my working, our life together, makes it so that snow days and hot cocoa add a beauty to our life, not a stress. If the roads happen to be “bad,” or its too cold for the 1999 Volvo’s engine to start, your dad just bundles up and walks to work.

And if school is cancelled on a day when there is absolutely no bad weather, like today? Well, we just go about a normal day.

Except church was cancelled.


Your Momma