Yesterday’s snow day got me thinking about all the snow days I’ve had the joy to live through.
From snow days with my girls to snow days when I was a girl.
Curiously, the memory that took my breath away was of a snow day in 1979.
I was seven years old in February, my eighth birthday would come in May. A crazy storm came out of nowhere and buried the DC Metro area in over two feet of snow.
President’s Day Storm 1979
photo copyright: Washington Post
This was a bomb cyclone storm too, (Though I think it was before that phrase was in the common lexicon.).
This storm was of great significance, mostly because everyone was caught off guard. It also directly impacted the way meteorologists predict storms.
But for this particular little red-haired girl, who dug tunnels to access an elaborate system of housing (caves) in her yard, drank her body weight in hot chocolate, and impatiently waited for her gloves to dry before she could go back out to play again, the President’s Day Storm had a different kind of significance.
It’s the first time I can recall actively panicking.
Because the storm hit us out of the blue, after a couple of days, we ran out of important things. You know…milk and bread, and the like.
My mother decided to walk the .6 miles (uphill) to our local Safeway to get what we needed. As you can see, according to Google Maps it’s about a 12 minute walk from home to the grocery store. I figure that was pretty much the same 38 years ago as it is now. House is in the same place…even the same Safeway.
Now, in hindsight, I wonder if she wasn’t just trying to get out of the house and away from us kids and Grandaddy. Since there’s no one left to ask, I guess we’ll never know.
I’ve only recently come to understand my childhood of being a “mommy’s girl” that didn’t feel comforted by her mommy was directly linked to my attachment anxiety. That I clung to my mother in desperate desire to feel connected to her, even though I very rarely did.
When I started my little jaunt down memory lane of snow days, I first visited the amazing tunnels and caves my brother and I built. Saw the snow packed down from flipping ‘skin the cat(s)’ about seven hundred thousand times off the big strong limb of the maple tree. And actually, if I think about it, that may have been how we decided to created the cave and tunnel system.
But then as I jumped over the fence (couldn’t open the gate for all that snow) to visit the forts we carved out of the snow against the fence, I felt my eyes drawn towards the church at the end of our street.
I actively watched up the street for what seemed like hours in a panic waiting for my mother to come home.
I am actively feeling that panic in the pit of my stomach as keenly now as I did at that snowy day.
Of course I have no idea how long my mother was actually gone, how long I stood there anxiously awaiting her return. What felt like hours could have been a much shorter amount of time. I honestly don’t know. I haven’t consciously thought about that day and the way I felt in ages.
What I do know is that when I finally saw my mother turn the corner onto our street, grocery bags strapped to the sled she pulled behind her, I was flooded with the greatest relief I’d ever know.
I ran up the street towards here, crying and gasping for breath.
The look on her face stopped me in my tracks, snowy mittens immediately wiping my face before she noticed my tears. But it was too late. She’d seen them, and had not patience for them.
She said, “What’s the matter with you?” in a tone laced with such disgust it was almost a physical blow.
“I was worried about you. I didn’t know when you were going to come home. I didn’t know if you were safe.”
She shook her head and moved passed me, “Of course I’m safe. Don’t be so dramatic.”
I stood in the street watching her walk away from me. In that moment I felt so small and so terribly stupid. Of course she was safe. She was the mommy. Mommies are strong and capable. I was stupid to worry about her. I was too dramatic with my tears and panic.
I’ve never shared this story before.
Honestly, I haven’t thought about in…well, probably ever. But that’s the memory upon which I landed when I started thinking about snow days.
Not the fun we had as kids.
Not the fun we had as adults with our own kids.
Not the sledding, the snowmen, the bonfires.
Not the snow cream, the snow angels, the hot chocolate.
But I did have fun snow days as a kid.
With a frozen nose and shrieking laughter.
With snowball fights at the church yard and sledding at the park.
Snuggled up with my kitties under colorful ‘afgans’ in cozy jammies and stacks of books.
And I did have fun snow days as an adult.
Witnessing the girls in the snow for the first time.
Bundling everyone up for very quick trips to play.
Taking their photos with the some of the most fun snowmen you’ve ever seen.
Making snow cream.
Making hot chocolate by the potful.
I don’t honestly know if more of my memories are happy than sad. But I do know I go through the happy ones more frequently. I do know that this particular sad one was buried as deep as the snow from that long ago winter.
As far as I’m concerned, snow days are always a good thing!
Our county schools called off Friday just before 5 pm Thursday afternoon. So that means another snow day today!
Even though there really isn’t any snow, I’m still happy!