Why winter can be a Solo Mom’s haven
Tomorrow will be day four of being snowbound with my three children, while the outdoor temperatures plummet to single-digit and negative numbers. Nearly everyone else is going berserk and hoping for sunny days to melt the deep snow and praying for spring to arrive. Not us. This is our happy place. It reminds me of the long winters we spent in upstate New York when the kids were babies and toddlers. Again, just them and me. Our days were predictable, cozy, and easy. A big day was a sledding day or making a snowman and then coming home to cuddle under quilts. We didn’t have busy, hectic schedules then. Those were the days before solo-mothering included taxi driver in the job description. During the other three seasons, I miss the simplicity of winter.
Everyone else seems to love winter until the holidays are over, and then winter becomes the demon we must endure until springtime. My greatest Christmas gift each year is the knowledge that January and February are waiting right around the corner.
Don’t get me wrong: now that my kids are older, you’ll never see me making a snow angel or gallivanting around outside unless it’s necessary. So it’s not like I can’t wait to hit the slopes like the rest of my family or participate in other chilly outdoor hobbies. Being cold is not my thing at all. While I scorn the weatherman who bemoans below-zero temperatures and winter-weather advisories, I do it from inside my warm home, clutching a steaming cup of tea by the fire and cackling with glee. Specifically, though, what is it about winter that I love, aside from the peaceful unpretentiousness of the underdog season?
Winter decorations. After the New Year, the Christmas decorations come down, and out comes my collection of clean, white snowflakes and snowmen assembled over the years, most of them made by my children. I decorate our home with a clean palette, with the hope that the snow will come and, with it, the quiet solitude I crave throughout the rest of the year.
The big yellow pot. Nothing makes me happier than making a homemade meal in our yellow cast-iron Dutch oven. I hope that someday my kids remember all the warm yumminess they scooped out of the pot over the years and begin similar traditions of their own.
Flannel everything and UGGs. Some women shop for shoes when they need some retail therapy. I shop for flannel sheets and flannel pajamas. Every other year, I carefully choose a new pair of ugly shearling boots. I have drawers full of woolly scarves, gloves, and thick socks. I’ve wondered why I love being bundled up, and the easiest answer, aside from the obvious love of being cozy, is that these things make me feel safe.
Hunkering down for a storm. When there’s a storm coming, you’ll find me giddily grocery shopping for ingredients for the big yellow pot—enough to sustain us for a month if need be. When I watch movies such as Misery and The Shining, I am perversely envious of the movies’ characters—well, except for the hobbling, obviously. Cabin fever is something I’ve never felt.
The little things. Let’s be practical: leg shaving is unavoidable in the summer months. But in the winter? Who cares! Long naps on dark Sunday afternoons. Heated seats in my car. No boob sweat from the sweltering summer months. Indefinitely cleared calendars when a storm rolls in. And, finally, my theme song of the season, Tori Amos’s “Winter.”
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Angela Ricketts is ESME’s Veterans’ Assistance/Military Families Resource Guide and the author of the memoir No Man’s War: Irreverent Confessions of an Infantry Wife. Daughter and wife of career infantrymen, she has a master’s degree in social psychology. You can follow her on Twitter at @angricketts and Facebook at Angie Ricketts.
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