Mommies are People Too


Last weekend it snowed — again. Usually, I am the lucky mother of two children whose father plays with them. A lot. His role is to build the igloo while I stay home and make the bolognese for their return and also write, catch up on email, and generally exist as an adult enjoying a Saturday morning while he becomes an Inuit and carves imaginary blubber. Last Saturday he was out of town and so we began the lengthy process of dressing to go out into the snow and play.

I did my best, toting two plastic snow ballers, they’d gotten for xmas, sleds and making sure we were well bundled. We sledded. I gave giant pushes as they careened down the hill (kind of a minor one since we live in the midwest) I sledded too, without the benefit of snow pants. It was 19 degrees and although sunny, very windy. My son, sat in the snow, reveling in its powdery depths as he struggled to make perfect snowballs that often dissolved at his touch. My daughter made a snow angel and when I lay down and joined her my jeans got soaked. But it was all good; we were having fun. We had races down hill, built a fort and then used the sleds, that were circular as “nests” and filled them with snowballs that we called eggs. We were outside, getting exercise, enjoying nature in the middle of Chicago; it was ideal. Until it wasn’t; I agreed to sled with my daughter one more time, holding her between my legs as we journeyed down and when I sat down, my zipper broke unleashing a stream of freezing air that seared my solar plexus. Ok so she’d sit in front of me, I’d be fine. We lasted more then four or five runs (my younger son in the distance, making snowballs and hurling them at us, his knit gloves — all wrong — crusted with ice.) I stopped to try and fix my zipper but ice had lodged in its grooves making it impossible to close. I looked at my watch; we’d been out for an hour. It was time. My announcement met with no response. My daughter stood atop the hill in some kind of fugue state, examining the tracks of some rodent while my son raised a handful of unfortunate yellow snow to his mouth. I grabbed his wrist in time then examined his tiny hands inside his terribly wrong gloves that were crimson with cold. “Your hands! Don’t you want to go in and warm up?”

“No!” he answered cheerfully, while I lead him away to a less urban mound of snow.

I called to my daughter, resorting to bribery. “Time to go in. I’ll make you cocoa!”


“With marshmallows!” I yelled.

Then from behind, the ambush! Snow on my neck, seeping down into my shirt and my son’s delighted grin.

My sweater was soaked. I sneezed three times in a row. “Ok, not funny! remember the rule, no snow on skin!” I tried in vain to close my faulty zipper again when my daughter piped in.

“Mom, you really shouldn’t have worn that coat!” It’s my down coat, the warmest one I own. I don’t say anything.”Promise me you won’t next time because you keep on stopping playing!”

“Right because I’m freezing!” I say losing it. I feel like a terrible mother. I am not sturdy enough, and mean on top of it.

“I’m not!” she says. I watch her shuffling away within an absurdly padded, waterproof, silhouette of outerwear.

“I’m not cold mommy,” my son insists even though his cheeks are really windburned his lips edging toward indigo.

“OK,” I negotiate, always a bad move, “five more minutes then we’re going in.”

Another race begins and I beg off saying I will wait at the bottom and act as referee. I am, I think, not so much fun, un-playful and selfish. And I am COLD. From another few minutes I spend glove free so that I can fiddle with the zipper, my fingers are burning with numb tips. Five minutes come and go and they show no sign of moving. My appeal about being cold means nothing to them since they aren’t. But their father is away. No one else will play with them. Throughout the school week we are always rushing them and as my daughter handily points out they’re just “trying to have fun.” Guilt makes me remain a few minutes longer. Then I ask again. No response. They are always perfect and we, parents are always flawed. But we are also human. What good would I actually be to them if my finger tips did break off from frost bite.

My needs do matter; if I let them not matter, then I am gone and they will be too. All good rationales but somehow I let loose a shout that startles my son so that he cries and my daughter snaps out of her hundredth snow angel and pops up to attention. They rise, collecting their gear and they put one foot in front of another and they follow me home.


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  1. 1

    TheOtherLisa says

    Okay, it’s like this: The human body runs at a temperature of 98.6 degrees. Children have less body area. Parents have more. It’s physics, your core temp is spread out over a greater area than theirs. Therefore you feel cold more intensely than they do.

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  2. 2

    Kristen Mae at Abandoning Pretense says

    It’s not selfish. You’re not selfish. You’re not only “a person too,” but kids have to learn to obey. I get annoyed with all the overly-feely “let the kids figure out by themselves” mantra permeating the parenting environment lately. If kids could raise themselves, they wouldn’t need parents. We could drop them off in the woods like Hansel and Grettel. I swear many parents today think they’re not supposed to tell their kids what to do. And conversely, the kids think their parents have no authority over them. Seems kind of obvious that this would present a challenge at some point. I and my numb fingers would’ve snapped too, momma. ;)

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  3. 4

    Amanda says

    Kudos for staying out much longer than I would have! You reached your end point. We all have one. When they’re old enough to look back on their childhood, it’ll be your better moments they remember.

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  4. 5

    ButteryMuffyn says

    I could come over all supercilious mommy on you and say things like why the hell don’t you have decent snow clothes if you live in Chicago etc etc. but you know what? I have all that shit and STILL hated going out to play in the snow with the kids when they were small. It sucked. Good for you for sticking it out for an hour. That’s plenty long enough :)

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  5. 6

    grownandflown says

    Here is my thought: your children will remember that you played with them in the snow and they will definitely remember your blood-curdling cry. You gave them a fantastic memory!

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  6. 7

    Amanda says

    Screw that, Kudos to you for lasting 10 minutes. Im from mid Missouri, and Im the one in charge of taking ds2 in the snow. I was the only smart one who bought not only overalls, but ski&rescue overalls that last to -10 weather. I hate the snow, but ive got to make it bareable for the little one, so 10/20 rule, 10 minutes outside 20 inside.

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  7. 8

    Debbie says

    Cool story, oops didn’t mean it to sound that way. :) I am not one that really likes to play in the snow, especial when it is 19 degrees. Not so much!

    You know i think every mother needs that loud shout sound. Between the mother look and the mother sound they know there world is never going to be the same. :) We all have to have some TOOLS that work at the drop of a dime.
    Thanks for sharing and hope spring comes to Chicago soon.

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