Winter Intent

Lots of people whine about winter. This morning, I’ll intentionally join their ranks and offer my list of winter ills: cold weather, dead grass, the dicey dance of needing to wear a coat to get to the car but then being too hot with the defrost on to be able to wear my coat inthe car, filthy cars that I wipe my black clothes on as I walk past in the narrow garage, the lack of outdoor activities/entertainment options for oneself and ones children (no swimming! no parks!), events being cancelled because of snow or the threat of snow…the list could go negatively on and on.

Drew and Oakley in matching grey/brown sweaters. Oakley enjoyed the cameraderie...he really did.

I conquered a winter woe this weekend and took down the Christmas decorations throughout our house. It was all the agony I thought it was going to be: lots of work and emotionally heart wrenching. I loved the Christmas tree light in the morning (but probably not as much as Andi did) and the soft glow of the window garland lights downstairs every evening. (Speaking of downstairs- in winter, our downstairs level is about 20 degrees colder than upstairs and drafty- you must don a blanket atop a sweatshirt just to go downstairs at our house!). I loved drinking out of Christmas coffee mugs and staring at Christmas crafts my kids have made hanging in the kitchen. Taking it all down marks the end of a great season, a special set-apart time of year where I’ve been a bit more intentional on making memories, marking moments, baking deliciousness, seeking Christ and being with people. Now it’s all over and my house confirms that. I’m back to ordinary and dusty decor I’ve put up for 6 years- oh, except atop the TV! We have graduated from our 2004 27in tank of a TV (Drew reminds me I said it was like 50 inches in an earlier post- whoops) to a flat screen, digital, “smart”, TV so there is no more space for me to put a decoration on top! Hurrah!

Last week winter caught me off guard. In one sporadic attempt to help Eli right a sock (he often wears socks upside down, with the heel marking and bulk on the top of his foot- hey, “if the shoe fits”…but this day, it couldn’t…), I noticed his toenails. Oh my, they were long and misshapen, and downright pointed on the left third toe. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d thought about cutting his toenails. They’ve been so hidden beneath winter socks and shoes and I just never slowed down to notice. Not addressing it just then, it took another 3 days until I asked Drew to do Eli’s toenails when he sat down to do his own.

A few days later, Andi was asking me for something (probably gum, it’s often for gum- 5 packs in her stocking this year!), but I couldn’t hear what she was saying because of the chapped-ness of her lips! Oh my!, they were white with cracks and rawness. I grabbed my purse and gave her chap-stick. I thought about how to give her chap-stick of her own to apply multiple times a day but most of her wardrobe consists of pocketless leggings. Alas, I’d have to try to intentionally offer it to her throughout the days until her lips could heal.

Andi in winter cuteness

These two events got me thinking about how different my parenting is for Eli and Andi than it is for Oakley this winter. For Oaks, I’m aware of every flake of cradle cap, the slightest redness in the diaper area, a nagging sniffle, and each hunger and sleepiness cue. His vulnerability and helplessness requires my constant and careful attention. I notice and know so much about his little body.

I used to know and notice and care for Eli’s and Andi’s in this way as well and haven’t stopped to think about their maturation as a separation from my care. I’ve celebrated their developmental milestones and enjoyed the departure from laboriously wrestling their limp arms through clothes, changing their diapers, and spooning food into their mouths. They also enjoy their independence and assert their skills with confidence. They don’t need my careful, constant, care in the the same way Oakley does right now but they still need my help, they need our parental attention in little winter-caring ways.

Eli in ice skates- indoor winter fun here we come!

I am thankful for the reminder to carry intentionality out of Christmas and into the rest of this winter. I’m deciding to be grateful for what winter does offer:  an exercise for our family imagination as we try harder to find new things to do inside, the bonus of extra cuddling under blankets with Drew while we’re downstairs, how yummy coffee tastes, and the mug feels, on cold mornings, how the morning darkness helps my kids sleep later, the cute baby sweaters and cuddly fleece outfits I get to dress Oakley in, and how cutting Eli’s toenails means I get to hold him on my lap, and that if I’m putting chapstick on Andi’s face, I’m looking right into her eyes.

Thank you winter for the deeper, slower, more intentional ways we must live. I am grateful I live in a quadruple season geographic area and I will attempt to embrace the winter rhythms in this post-Christmas Ordinary time.


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