Dear Frustrated Parents On A Snow Day

Dear Frustrated Parents On A Snow Day,

Snow days are inconvenient. When the call isn’t made until the morning of and the communication trifecta—simultaneous landline and cell phone calls, text messages, and emails—happens at 5:30 a.m., it’s particularly annoying.

For working parents, snow days are especially problematic. Rescheduling meetings and conference calls is a difficult task. Finding last minute childcare or working from home is sometimes an impossible one.

I get it. I really do. But let’s reframe the scenario and think about the safety of bus drivers; special education teachers who travel to and from multiple schools daily; janitorial staff members who are responsible for snow removal, cafeteria cleanup, and vomit sanitation; teachers who commute to work from distant towns and counties; and students who depend on clear sidewalks to get to school each day.

Take a deep breath and think of all the things to be grateful for on a snow day.

  1. The chance to finally put Christmas decorations away. (You know who you are.)
  2. The joy on your kids’ faces when you announce, “It’s a snow day!” These are the days they’ll remember.
  3. Making pancakes from a box instead of the freezer. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?
  4. Folding and putting laundry away so no one has to get dressed from a pile of wrinkled clothes on the dining room table.
  5. The time to organize tax documents. 😂 JK! Don’t ruin your snow day with tax preparation.
  6. Catching up on your favorite podcasts while you unload and load (and unload and load) the dishwasher. My favorites are By The Book, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, Happier in Hollywood, Katie Couric, Super Soul Conversations, The Nuanced Life, Pantsuit Politics, Lovett or Leave It, Pod Save America, Mom and Dad Are Fighting, The Longest Shortest Time, and What Fresh Hell. I could go on and on…
  7. Giving your kids unlimited screen time while you read a book. YES YOU CAN! YES YOU CAN! YES YOU CAN!
  8. Baking cookies and eating cookie dough straight from the bowl because counting (calories, screen time, glasses of wine, etc.) isn’t allowed on snow days.
  9. Wearing comfy pants all day. Aaaaahhh.
  10. Figuring out which summer camps still have early bird specials because summer vacation—the endless “snow day”—is just around the corner!

Gretchen Rubin recently suggested a great “try this at home” tip on her Happier podcast (episode 153). Funny enough, I listened to it while wearing comfy pants, folding laundry, and baking cookies eating cookie dough on a snow day. The tip is this: When faced with an unexpected and unwelcome circumstance—for instance, a snow day—try saying, “This is actually good for me,” and let the new perspective unfold.

Happy Snow Day! (This is actually good for me!)

 

 

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Running Like Hell

The day I registered for the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop was the day I quit writing.

The bad days are agonizing. Those are the days when the words don’t come—when Imposter Syndrome seeps in, courage hides, and fear gets in the way of finishing. Even productive days are excruciating. The words come, but they arrive at inopportune times, like when I should be cooking dinner for or bathing my kids.

My creative process has always been sporadic. My best work strikes unexpectedly, like when Sam possessed Oda Mae’s body to communicate with Molly in Ghost. Without warning, a story inhabits my body, courses through my veins, pulses in my heart, and pours out of my fingers at the keyboard.

Elizabeth Gilbert tells a story in Big Magic about the poet Ruth Stone who, when she was a child, would hear a poem coming toward her and would “run like hell” home to get a piece of paper and pencil to catch it before it passed through her. Gilbert also describes a few bewildering creative endeavors of her own where fairy dust was most certainly involved.

I’m grateful to have “caught” some startling magic from deep in the Universe, but the act of writing isn’t always so charming. I’ve learned how to cope with the decidedly un-magical days weeks months of (not) writing. Running helps. So does organizing the linen closet, eating SkinnyPop, and co-chairing the silent auction for a local fundraising Gala. (In all fairness, I don’t recommend that last one.)

The deliberate act of not writing comes with some guilt, worry, and extra calories, but the magic always returns. Or does it? Lately, there’s been no fairy dust or catching or finishing. There’s been nothing but fear, defeat, distraction, and thoughts like, it was good while it lasted.

On Tuesday, December 5, 2017, when the 2018 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop opened its doors, I closed mine. I made a deliberate and conscious decision not to go. It would be a waste of time and money, and I probably wouldn’t get in anyway with so many writers vying for so few spots.

At 12:57 p.m.—at the grocery store and 57 minutes after Erma registration officially started—I received three frantic texts from a longtime friend I’ve known since we were roommates in graduate school two decades ago.

SIGN UP FOR ERMA BOMBECK NOW!

TRY!!!

GO GO GO!

I’m not saying this friend of mine is magic, fairy dust, or Patrick Swayze, but she once drove me to the emergency room after I passed out from flu-related dehydration. Her words—now…try…go—were like ice-cold water splashed on my face.

I dropped my basket with bananas, cheese sticks, a loaf of bread, and a box of Cheez-Its on the floor of the frozen foods aisle and ran like hell home to catch It. If Sam had the resolve to possess Oda Mae for one more dance with his true love, and if Oda Mae had the audacity to let him, so did I.

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