You know how they say never put your tongue on cold metal? It’s true.

We had been in deep freeze all week – minus 30°C (minus 22°F) wind chills, no recess for the kids at school – when I started to feel a bit shack wacky. I bundled up my three year old until he waddled like a penguin and said, “Who cares about the wind chills, we’re going out!” We went to a nearby park; my son laughed hysterically when he flew down the slide and would land in a big heap of snow. This isn’t so bad, I thought, feeling smug about the hearty Canadian that I am. But then.

In the middle of the quiet, frozen land I heard a small voice say: “Hmm. Tongues stick.” I looked down at my boy and his mouth was covered in blood. It was pouring everywhere; a red icicle hung from his chin. I looked at the slide and could actually see a very tiny layer of my baby’s skin stuck to the side. When we got home it was obvious that his injuries weren’t serious (you know how the mouth bleeds), but what kind of a crazy mother takes her three year old out in a minus 30°C wind chill?

The kid in me does get excited when frigid temperatures and towering snow banks settle upon us. I love how strangers talk to each other and help each other more when the weather is severe. Few things re-energize me more than cross-country skiing through a forest that has been silenced by a heavy snowfall, and one of my favourite things to do is skate along the Rideau Canal on a twinkly winter’s night.

But, truth be told, around this time of year I usually start to feel a little weary. I want to stay on the couch reading novels all day long. I wonder if I can get away with not brushing my hair since it will be under a toque most of the day. I debate whether stealthily kicking dirt under the couch counts as sweeping up. Let’s face it, winter’s lack of sunlight, long cold nights and reduced mobility can drag even the most chipper among us down. Low energy and lack of motivation are characteristics of the winter blues (of course Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) and depression are something entirely different and require the assistance of a health care provider).

Oh, I do all the things you’re supposed to: I take my Vitamin D, eat my servings of oily fish, exercise and meditate. But even my three kids, those tenacious clingers-to-consciousness, need to be woken up for the school bus on February mornings. My eight

Let's do this all day long

Let’s do this all day long

year old begs to stay in her pyjamas all day long, while my six year old spends afternoons lounging on the air vents in the hopes of catching a blast of warm furnace air.

Normally I see the winter blues as something I need to overcome. With forced cheeriness, I try to will myself and my children into action. But this year I’m trying a different approach. What if the winter blues are in fact one big gift from the wisest mother out there – Nature – if only we’d relax and take it?

I mean, look outside. The bears, queen bees and turtles aren’t exactly worried about slacking off on their to-do lists. The crocuses and tulips aren’t fretting about whether they’ll get their blooms back. The trees aren’t thinking, “What’s wrong with me? I haven’t produced a leaf in months. I really gotta make some leaves today.” No, Mother Nature knows. She knows that this is the season of rest, repose and stillness. She knows that I’m supposed to feel more introverted, quiet and lazy. She knows that spring will be here soon enough with all of its busyness, growth and change. Mother Nature isn’t going to wrap up her three year old in a minus 30°C wind chill and take him to the park. Oh no, she’s going to get her slack on while she can. Why? Because she’s smart. Mother Nature knows that in the frenetic pace of mothering and career-building and loving and caring we all just really need a little more downtime. So she’s snowing us in, saying, “Here you go, get a breather while you can.”

So this year, I’m taking it. I’m taking a break from our culture’s mantra of “Faster! More! Now!” Instead of seeing the winter blues as something I need to conquer, I’m going to sign the kids up for one less activity. I’m going to say no to the social events that drain my battery and re-schedule my life to make it to the events that charge me up. I’m going to send fewer texts and e-mails. I’m going to put a video on for the kids and not chide myself about how I should be stimulating and engaging them 24/7. In all the areas of my life in which I’m able to slack off, I will.

So, instead of creating some deeply insightful ending to this blog I’m going to finish it right here, because I’ve got some goofing off to do. Ahh, welcome winter blues. I needed you.

4 Responses

Leave a Reply