OPINION: Learning to Swim in the Snow

Snowed in with kids, isn’t it every parent’s dream? For me, it’s right up there with a root canal and pap smear, perhaps performed simultaneously.

We all saw it coming, the alerts on our weather apps, the barrage of not-so-subtle emails from the school, the long, long lines of desperate souls on the brink of more torture standing outside Ancona’s, their eyes frantic, pleading.  Was there ever a time snow days weren’t synonymous with day drinking? Remote learning, it’s changed me, man.

Seriously, every time I’m presented with another math problem, I just end up feeling like Moana handing back the stone. “You chose the wrong person.” Around noon I come to the same realization I always do… that no ship (or plow truck) is coming to save us and if we don’t want to end up stranded at sea, possibly facing off with a giant crab or small army of coconut voodoo dolls, we’d better learn to swim…fast. There’s always a storm at sea, always someone with a problem that needs solving, a boo-boo that needs (immediate) icing, a voodoo doll just waiting to be pinned. Rough waters ahead, people.

I’m divorced (like half of the rest of the country) and remarried. I spent the first year of motherhood trying to raise myself. Okay, maybe the first decade in fairness. I remember telling myself that life, at some point, would get easier. That I wouldn’t always be 23 and newly divorced, living in my old room with my new baby, my baby, the one I was meant to be raising while finishing college. I can’t believe that was almost 20 years ago.

Of all my regrets, I really wish I had paid more attention in math class. “When am I ever going to need this?” my younger daughter asked recently. “Like when am I ever going to need to know how to find the cubic volume of blah, blah, blah.”

The irony wasn’t lost on me. “Do your math. Pay attention. Let sleeping crabs lie.” (I realized later how this could one day be misinterpreted). “Finish college before making a baby. It’s really hard to study for your finals while someone’s screaming in your ear.”

But I didn’t say any of that because at that moment, the scenic New England snow was holding me captive and I was secretly thankful for the clean white blanket that now covered all the crap I neglected to clean up circa last August. Somewhere a little toy boat is suffering hypothermia.

By dinner my husband discovered the raw chicken still sitting in the crockpot, the promised-it-was-done-but-still-undone math still waiting to be completed, and Maui knocking on our back door, looking for his hook. Still no plow. I wrote him off. “Mr. Don’t Worry I’ve Got You Covered and You’re Welcome” was never coming and it still looked like Dr. Zhivago outside.

If you ever need to force a criminal confession, come to our house between the hours of 6-8 p.m., the sound alone will make you long for jail time. I’m so not cut out for this but I still keep reaching… like that poor squirrel, the one who hangs upside down (we’ll call him Marcus), the one who thinks he’s training for the Rodent Olympics as he works to extract a few measly sunflower seeds from our broken bird feeder. I feel you, Marcus. Never give up. Keep reaching.

Marcus, Maui, Moana, they know my struggle, my six o’clock suppertime shuffle.  They get it. One math problem at a time, one more glass of wine, one more crockpot caper in the pot. Hell, tomorrow we’ll get up and do it all over again, hopefully not remotely and with a cooked chicken this time.

The plow truck finally came through around 2 a.m. I guess nothing’s written in stone. Everyone was finally asleep. In my bed, but did it matter really? I have to keep reaching. The ocean chose me. Now if only I could sing like Moana.

Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful to the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice. 

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