Upon waking, a child’s face is sweetly scrunched up and bearing the dreamy gaze of recently peeled-off sleep. A flavour like no other. Another thing to miss down the road, another song that will keep on pouring notes into my mornings long after the boys will have grown up.
I woke up early today because the room was lit white. Snow! That heart flutter never changes. You wake up knowing something is different, a whisper of winter lays on your eyelids and you can’t remember where but you’ve seen it before… so many first-snow mornings that I left behind in the house I grew up in. The muffled sounds of my parents in the kitchen, the glow in the room, the warm covers… I savoured it every time.
Before waking up little boy I press my face against the window and look outside.
The backyard is white, and trees are again the standing candles that make me forget that beyond them is a busy road. All is muffled now. Roads no more, only the ones to my childhood and back, taking thoughts of now into then and the other way around.
The magic of the first snow, the extra blink you put yourself through just to make sure you’re not dreaming still… The white story floating all over the room, that room, this room. Time never stands still.
I wake up little boy and pull up the blinds… Little boy’s face explodes with surprise and he hides under the covers and then out again. Snow! ‘Can we build a snow shelter?’
We will. Breakfast? No one’s hungry. ‘We can eat snow.’ Indeed. Snowflakes twirl and dance with the wind, and we step outside to dance too.
Just us and a world of white. Big boy is out in the woods, winter camping with Max. A first. Celebrating boyhood and laughter among trees and sitting around a fire that can never be too long-lived. Growing boys sharing their magic with us, allowing us to peek into their joy, into their worries and silliness, allowing us to see them. It’s a two way mirror, if we work to keep it so.
‘Can we make it this tall, mama? I want to be able to sit inside.’
We carry armloads of snow and pile them into the emerging walls of the shelter. I carry the big loads, little boy patches up the walls. There are magpies and crows watching us, there’s the dog next door that has yet to learn the benefits of familiarity and friendliness and his incessant barking makes us laugh.
I am privileged. To be building shelters, to be soaking in hugs and snuggles every morning and night, to have my boys learning alongside, to never think ‘enough’… Snow would not be the same without giggles and groans over crumbling snow.
The snowfall grows thicker. This is what matters. Presence. Through that, my boys hear the one thing worth repeating: You’re worth it. Being here is enough.
These days it’s about taking a breath in when you can. It’s about taking long enough to see the magpies dig in the fresh snow and admire their gracious gliding from the low branches of our backyard pine. It’s about wondering what they think as they do that and see us play in the snow. It’s about allowing children to never rush out of a moment that has much to impart to their lives and ours.
We leave behind a week full of grief and things worth knowing.
Before Remembrance Day the boys learned about wars. There’s much to learn. Way beyond facts and figures, we learn about people who become the facts and figures. People like us, the boys say. It is never about glorifying wars, it’s about honouring people and understanding that their sacrifice should count towards making a commitment to kindness.
It’s always easy to say it. Be kind. To do takes more. To do makes the commitment real.
‘Why do people create war? It’s so wrong!’ There is fault in wanting too much power, there is fault in oppression and there is fault in not admitting that violent action begets more violence in places where hatred is allowed to live.
Come the end of the week, terrorist attacks brought Beirut and Paris into a state of chaos and brought the big unresolved question back: Why? What makes people do that? The list of people to remember grows by the day.
Committing to kindness is the only thing I can ask the boys to do.
I commit to gratefulness for being able to savour moments that have boys and trees and snow and birds in them, moments when I hear laughter and I do not have to fear that it might disappear the next moment.
We need to find our way back. It’s through raising children to think kindly, to never forget about the wonder of the world, to see worthiness and be humble about it all.
Snow dresses the world in white for now and that brings hope. The shelter has tall enough walls for little boy to sit and we’re going to find a cover for it. We hear voices and see smiling faces. Max and Tony are back. They carry last night’s campfire smoke on their cheeks and their eyes glow with the cheeriness of an adventure that added to the magic of first snow…
‘Mom, the snow is so deep up there, it’s so beautiful!’
It is just this. The moment we’re in. It’s where we come as we are.