Yesterday, around 4:00 in the afternoon, I received a phone call. Let me be a bit more clear: it's the kind of call that every parent dreads. My heart froze as I stared at the number glowing on my cell, knowing full well who it was, and I was tempted to just let it ring. I didn't want to face whatever awful news was about to befall me, but I also knew the caller would leave a long, detailed message if I didn't answer. I slowly swiped the glowing green handset on my cell's screen, took a long shaky breath, and waited. Hearing no voice on the other line, I tentatively whispered "Yes?"
Suddenly, a nauseatingly cheerful, pre-recorded voice started to speak..."Hello, this is the Charleston County School District calling to let parents and students know that due to inclement weather, school will not resume until Tuesday, January 9th. Have a pleasant evening."
Wait...what?? There was only one more day left of winter break, and this happens?!
My four kids have been out of school for two weeks already, five more days could really be the end of me, both emotionally and mentally. Don't get me wrong, my children are my world and I love them more than anything. It's not that I don't enjoy the endless housework, the constant trips to the grocery store (3-4 gallons of milk a week - it's like liquid gold to teens), and the mounds of dirty dishes stacked precariously in the kitchen sink, a result of round the clock eating and snacking that defines the life of a growing teenager.
A dozen or so blankets had been dragged all over the house for 2 weeks now; I told the kids if I found one more comforter under my dining room table, I was going to retreat to my bedroom indefinitely. Most likely hiding under the bed with a bottle of "nerve tonic" and my alternative 80's mix blasting from an ancient ipod. Everyone in the house laughed, thinking I was kidding. I wasn't.
I needed some me time in a quiet house, knowing the kids would be at school for a solid 8 hours of peace and cleanliness. This has to be some cruel joke. I bet Pam from book club decided it was my turn for a prank phone call. Yes, yes. That's what happened, it was all a joke.
Logging onto my FB account, I started seeing all of the status updates from other desperate parents. Letting go of the final shred of hope was hard. I finally had to admit to myself that Pam couldn't have pranked everyone on my friend list. She isn't even that funny, or clever, no way could she have pulled an extended winter break trick the night before the kids were due back in class. Right? Or could she....ok, enough about her, time for me to accept the icy hard truth. Charleston was facing the first major snowfall in decades, and there was nothing any of us parents could do about it.
I stared out the window, my whining inner voice escalating into a high pitched squeal, when the snow began to fall.
Born and raised in West Virginia, my mother moved my sisters and me to South Carolina when I was 17. My absolute favorite childhood memories are the ones involving snow - roaring fires, sledding in the park, making snow angels with my friends, and the feeling of pure joy when a perfect snowball hits its intended target. I didn't realize how absorbed in those memories I actually was until my cheeks started hurting from the enormous grin on my face, and I felt a tear slide down my cheek. In that moment, it hit me that I could give my children those same memories. We live in the south, and there are huge snow flakes quickly covering everything in sight. A cruel joke or a beautiful miracle?
I had a choice to make: live in this lovely moment with my family, or feel sorry for myself for not having enough quiet time.
I'll have plenty of quiet time when my babies leave for college, start their careers, and have families of their own. This wacky weather I was witnessing was an opportunity to give my family a gift. The gift of sharing two perfect snowy days, together, full of the beauty of icicles and the cackling laughter of a good snowball fight. This wintry wonderland may never make it back down this way again, but the memories will be with us forever. In just minutes, we were out the door, thankful for the blessing of this unexpected wonder.
Be thankful and live in the moment, never underestimate the power of a childhood memory. I'm so glad I didn't, and so is my family.