Despite the still warm days and brilliant colors, I feel the anxiety of winter stealing my ability to just fall into the graces of this season.
Now, before having kids, I would have been relishing in endless days of mountain biking over barely visible trails covered in crunchy leaves and eagerly standing on watch for those first flurries. Those first flurries brought whispers of the upcoming adventures to be had on snow covered mountains. I love that feeling. I love feeling giddy about whatever Mother Nature wraps up and presents to me like a new gift every day. But now, I have 2 kids under 4 yrs old and that “bright eyed and bushy tailed 30 something, eager to run out the door to the next adventure” person I used to be, has been replaced by a 40 something drowning in all the things that need to get done in order to get outside. Realizing the scale is heavily tipped in the “work bucket” while the “joy bucket” seems to have but only helium on some days, can squash good intentions of outdoor adventures. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t just sit inside with my kids. It’s not in my nature. I’d go a little crazy. So, regardless of the weather, we go outside. It’s just that getting outside now is so much harder with payoffs that might be reaped years later.
I know the benefits of being outside. I live it personally everyday.
I’m not right emotionally and physically if I haven’t had at least 1 hour in the woods daily. I go outside despite the weather because the weather doesn’t bother me. I’m a true believer in “No such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.” On -30 degree days with wind chill, I’m literally covered like a ninja about to summit Everest.
As I gear up to face the elements, I feel empowered…as if I can conquer anything if I can master being outside for an extended period of time in deadly temps. But kids, oh they are skeptics of anything that covers their body from its natural born state. I can barely convince my kids to keep pants on so how on earth do I convince my 10 month old that the balaclava is not a torture device.
Repetition, maybe? And is the work of layering, convincing, begging, re-layering and tears all worth it. I’d like to think so.
Though it’s still hard, I realize each winter gets a bit easier as the kids get older. I remember taking my now almost 4 yr old on winter walks when she was an infant. I would walk anxiously hoping to make it home before she decided she couldn’t exist without being latched on to nurse. But, there were many times her desire to nurse happened well before I was close to home. I remember the days of sitting on a snow covered tree stump as my postpartum belly caught the below zero wind, trying to nurse and keep the snow off my new baby. I remember last winter with my now almost 1 yr old, as she would hold her breath till she turned blue at the slightest breeze. The winter of 2014-2015 must have been the windiest winter on record, or at least the windiest in my microcosm. That was hard. It was exhausting and demoralizing.
Here I am, both kids a year older, bracing for the impending winter and I know at my core, the effort is worth it.
All the tantrums, the throwing off of the hats and gloves, the having to go back inside to potty within 5 seconds of being outside, and the hot chocolate bribery, is worth the payoff. I am starting to see the “joy bucket” provide counterweight to the “work bucket”. I’m hearing the giggles at catching those first snowflakes on their tongues. I’m seeing, at least in my almost 4 yr old, that same giddy look I used to get as a new season approaches. As we watch those first flurries return, as if greeting us from a long vacation, I hear Piper say “It’s snowing! Can we going skiing today? Oh please momma? Or maybe sledding? Or snowshoeing? Can we build a snow dog? And maybe a snow fort and eat icicles?”
Yes, baby, it is snowing. It will continue to snow, a lot.
Despite the work, and despite the challenges, and despite the fact that it might be easier not to, we are going to play outside because that’s the most important thing I can do for you, your sister and even me right now.