Mindfully Managing a Snow Day

This is the view from my living room window.

Looks beautiful, I know.

White.

Fluffy.

It’s the kind of snow that belongs in a painting.

The kind that makes me want to curl up with my kids and share a steaming cup of almond milk hot chocolate.

If only it were that easy.

Truth is, I’m typing this while my kids are playing Minecraft and watching God-knows-what on YouTube.

I’m not even sure they’ve brushed their teeth yet – although I just asked them to so I would feel less guilty about telling you that.

Yep. This is the real story – one that is no doubt being repeated throughout the country right now.

For working parents, this is the shadow side of snow days.

They’re stressful.

Inconvenient.

And sometimes they turn us into people we don’t want to be.

Case in point: On another recent snow day (I don’t know about you, but we’ve had a zillion of them) I took my kids for lunch at a local Panera.

In the booth across from us I spotted two children – a boy around 7 and his sister who was around 4 – playing games on a shared iPhone. As kids do, they started arguing about whose turn it was and the youngest ran to the mom….working behind the register.

With a long line of customers and a looming manager, the mother snapped at her daughter to sit down.

The little girl ran back to the booth.

Barely a minute went by before the kids started arguing again.

Daughter runs to mom.

Mom barks.

Daughter runs back to the booth.

I watched this cycle repeat itself once more and then the mother, noticeably agitated, marched over to the booth, grabbed her son sharply by the arm and drug him into a storage room. Moments later, the door flung open and she stormed back to the register. He emerged behind her – silent and crying.

In that instant, my heart broke for all of them.

The mother who had clearly been pushed past her limit.

The daughter who didn’t understand why she was confined to a 4-foot box all day.

The son who didn’t deserve the punishment he received.

At this point the line of customers was gone, and so I walked over to the mom and ordered a cup of tea.

“Are those your kids?” I asked.

She smiled slightly but I could tell she was wondering if I was complimenting or judging.

“Yeah,” she said.

“They’re adorable,” I replied. “And well-behaved.”

We locked eyes for a split second in a mom-to-mom-I-get-this-is-hard kind of way.

“Thanks,” she said, handing me a cup of hot water. “The tea bags are over there.”

As I left the restaurant, I said a prayer for that family.

May they find the space and perspective to appreciate each other right now.

It wasn’t a prayer for no snow.

It wasn’t a prayer for better childcare – or even a better job.

It was a prayer for them – all of them – to find peace amid the chaos.

I often tell audiences at my lectures that the facts of our circumstances don’t change according to whether we are happy or unhappy about them.

The facts are just the facts. The real question is, “Now what?”

This, of course, is where you get to choose. It’s where you get to decide whether to surf the wave or allow it to knock you down all day.

Yes, yes, I know.

Great line for a blog, Emily but, again, if only it were that easy.

True.

Most of us can’t abandon our commitments, take the day off, and build a snowman in the front yard.

I can’t either because life isn’t an L.L. Bean commercial.

Not for me, not for you, and certainly not for that mom at Panera.

But here’s the thing.

I’m breathing.

I’m making space.

I’m finding compassion and appreciation in this moment.

Because I know it will all be gone soon enough and so – even with the commitments, the pressure, and the guilt – I’m choosing to be happy.

Right now, this second.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some hot chocolate to make.

 

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