A snow day to remember

I have a truly terrible memory — but one thing I do recall vividly from my childhood has persisted for decades: snow days. 

I remember the excitement the night before as the flakes started falling, my parents with the TV on, watching the scrolling school closures across the bottom to see if mine was among them. Or waking up in the morning and hearing the closure on KYW as I was midway through getting dressed for school. It was right outside to play! 

I recall the freezing sting on my face that didn’t bother me as my sister and I built and burrowed through giant forts and tunnels of snow. I remember the walks through our neighborhood with snow piles as tall as we were and Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and hot chocolate during our brief breaks. I can still hear the “chip, chip, chip” of the hundreds of neighbors in the surrounding blocks of Northeast Philly rowhomes as they scraped snow and ice from their sidewalks and cars, while I added my own “swish, swish, swish” from my snowsuit. I remember the feeling of the exhaustion from playing all day as it mingled with the adrenaline rush of a snowball fight, and the purple glow of the sky as nighttime crept in. 

Years later, the fact that such memories stayed with me so vividly got me excited to impart such lasting fun on my own kids. I couldn’t wait for the snow angels and the hot chocolate and all the memory-making excitement. 

And then I had kids … 

Last month, the night before our first recent snow day, my phone rang with a recorded message from Jackson’s school superintendent: “Due to the impending winter storm…” I may have let out a few expletives under my breath as Jackson whooped with excitement. I’d dabbled in snow days with Jackson before, but it had been a few years. Back then, he napped, talked a whole lot less and had significantly less energy (and attitude). Oh, and we didn’t have twin 2-year-olds. 

Knowing Ashlee was working at the hospital the next day and I’d be solo for a 14-hour snow day with three youngsters had me putting in a sick day at work and rolling up my sleeves to prepare for battle. The next morning, here’s how it went. 

Snow Day Log

6 a.m.: I wake up early, probably fueled by the dread of the day’s impending stress. Typically, one of the three kids is up by 6:15 so I dash to the kitchen to scramble a few eggs and eat in dark silence before the chaos ensues. 

6:30 a.m.: I have eaten, drank a whole cup of actually hot coffee and piddled on my phone in blissful silence. What is happening? I start getting really fearful; they’re sleeping in for extra fuel. 

7 a.m.: Still silence. I roll out my yoga mat in the kitchen and turn on my favorite YouTube yoga session. 

7:01 a.m.: As I take my first stretch, I hear “Mommy!” It has begun.  

7:36 a.m.: Jackson has asked me when we can go play in the snow four times already.

8:07 a.m.: Someone peed on the floor, and someone walked it from the kitchen to the dining room to the living room. I’m not sure who did either because both babies are diaperless and screaming. 

8:35 a.m.: I manage to wrestle Avery into clothes and hook her up to her feeding tube backpack to have her “breakfast.” 

8:40 a.m.: I finally break free from slinging Pop Tarts and telling Jackson to turn off “Frozen II” and run upstairs to get out of my pajamas and into some not-at-all snow-proof layers. August stands at the bottom of the stairs outside the baby gate and calls “Mommy!” 38 times in the four minutes I’m changing and brushing my teeth. 

9:01 a.m.: Dressing for the snow commences. 

9:24 a.m.: Dressing for the snow is complete, prolonged by the fact that August pulled his gloves off four times.

9:25 a.m.: We’re finally all down the front steps and gazing in awe at the piling snow. I feel empowered! Avery projectile vomits all over me, her coat and the glistening white snow. 

9:31 a.m.: Snow fun is done. After her vomiting, Avery refuses to stand and melts into the snow in tears. August won’t stop staring up at the snow like Trump in the solar eclipse and then proceeds to join his sister in his hysterics on the ground because of the snow in his eyes. Meanwhile, Jackson pelts me with snowballs, suggests about 43 different snow games and is sopping wet within seconds. 

9:36 a.m.: We’re out of our snow and vomit clothes finally! Now, Avery decides to vomit again, this time on the living room rug and her new outfit. I consider who would judge me if I opened a bottle of wine. 

10 a.m.: Thank you, “Frozen II,” for being a timeless classic!

10:30 a.m.: The natives are starting to get restless. “Let’s go through Jackson’s underwear drawer!” I call out in desperation after searching my to do list for something to put them to work at. We actually kill about a half-hour fairly pleasantly — slowly processing up the stairs and the kids then each calmly attacking a different corner of toys in Jackson’s tiny room while I hold up undie pair after undie pair to check for ones he’s outgrown. Sometimes, a change of scenery does the trick!

11 a.m.: It only lasts for 30 minutes, apparently. The pre-lunch tantrums have commenced.

12:30 p.m.: Lunches have been made, tried and thrown on the floor and once I unceremoniously drop August and Avery into their respective cribs for the blessed naptime, I turn “Frozen II” back on for Jackson so I can eat a bowl of soup and stare blankly at a wall. But I can’t help glancing over at Jackson every now and then, vegging in front of his show. I’m loving the calm silence, but I know he’d probably rather be doing something else. Aw, crap. Mom guilt. “Jackson, do you want to head back out in the snow?”

2 p.m.: Five-year-olds have stamina; those of us in our late 30s evidently do not. We spend a good 90 minutes pelting snowballs, chasing each other, making snow angels and even cleaning off my car and the sidewalk. I may have gently suggested about 12 times that Jackson must be freezing and ready to go in — which he ignored — but I survived a lengthy snow session and feel like I earned some Mom points in the process. 

2:10 p.m.: Jackson warms up with hot chocolate, while the twins fight viciously over who can sit on the bench at their mini piano, who has to play with the Elmo missing one arm, who gets prime real estate on my lap. Time to break out the animal crackers. 

3:15  p.m.: Snacks, more “Frozen” and a lot of pulling the dog’s nose out of everyone’s snack bowls later … forts? Surely, that’ll keep everyone amused! It does, for a few minutes. Then the fort poles become weapons and the twins are wrestling each other for toys; the melee causes one side of the fort to collapse, and Jackson crumples into hysterics.

4 p.m.: I’m leaning against the trunk of my car, hiding where I know the kids can’t see me from the front door. I can hear them screeching inside and banging on the door like zoo animals. But I pretend they’re fine because I just have to get this car shoveled out that I don’t intend to drive for days.    

5 p.m.: Hot dogs and mac and cheese — the dinner of champions!

5:45 p.m.: It’s bath time. Jackson wants no toys in the tub because he needs to “swim.” Avery throws an Elmo toy in. Jackson throws it out. August throws an entire bucket of toys in. Jackson has an Oscar-winning dramatic collapse in tears into the tub that sloshes water from my head to feet. August slips on the wet floor and knocks his head on the ground. Avery pees in the hallway. I check my weather app; surely, the temp has warmed enough that I won’t kill a Door Dasher if I order a pizza, I wonder, as I try to disengage from the chaotic overstimulation around me. 

6:15 p.m.: After eight minutes of tense negotiating about what TV show we’ll watch before bed, it has been decided: “Frozen II.” I finally uncork my wine in the kitchen as I try to hide from what feels like the 12th Idina Menzel power ballad of the day. My reverie is disrupted by August huffing and puffing into the kitchen, nude, lugging a pink doll stroller where a gigantic Hulk plush is seatbelted into. “Mommy!”

6:59 p.m.: My pizza has arrived and is sitting in a place of honor in the kitchen, alongside the full glass of wine I have poured as my reward as soon as I conquer bedtime. I’ve been sitting draped in children on the couch for 15 wonderfully calm minutes — them immersed in Elsa’s plan to save Arendelle, me watching the clock as it ticks ever-so-slowly to 7. Three, two, one … 

7:28 p.m.: Three sets of teeth brushed, PJs on, three books read, one elaborate story about a snowman that has come to life told to Jackson, night lights and sound machines on. Kids finally off.

8:30 p.m.: After a glass of wine and way too many slices of pizza, I find myself in that weird dichotomy parents often encounter: You finally get a moment away from your kids, and what are you thinking about? Your kids. After I regale Ashlee with our thrilling tales of the day when she arrives home from work, I curl up on the couch to check in with the world on CNN, and I find myself scrolling instead through my photos of the day. The twins screaming in the snow. Jackson drinking hot chocolate with a mischievous grin. Our lopsided snow angels. Flailing arms and legs inside a fort. God, that was a day, I think. Definitely not the snow day I remember from my childhood. But hopefully the one that they will.

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