After four weeks of festive frivolity, December eventually fades away, leaving January in its wake. There’s a deep reluctance to spend, a strong desire to diet and the cruel realization that the days are too short, the sun is scarce and the bitter cold air bites like a knife.
Then, when all hope seems lost, I wake up one morning to see the landscape transformed by flakes of white powder that now cover nearly every outdoor surface.
Sadly, I know it will not last. The temperature will slowly inch higher by the few degrees needed to turn fancy white flakes into boring drops of rain. But until that transition takes place, I look out the window and relish the memory of another winter day, 13 years earlier.
My reaction to the snow on that weekday morning was quite different that the peaceful reaction I feel today. I had to wake, shower, dress, get my 3-year-old daughter Melissa (who is now 16) up, dressed and fed. Then I cleaned off my car, came back inside and stuffed my little pumpkin into her coat, boots, gloves, hat and scarf. Finally, harried, and frustrated, I struggled to get my little girl and all of her winter coverings to fit into the car seat.
We drove to the day care center without incident. Melissa sat silently in the back seat, watching the snowflakes fall in earnest. We arrived. I parked, and anxiously glanced at my watch. Yes, today, I would certainly be late for work. I unhooked the car seat and helped her out, and with, perhaps, a bit too much edginess to my voice, encouraged her to move faster.
We started to walk towards the entrance to the day care center when suddenly, she stopped. "Now what?" I thought, again glancing at my watch. She looked at me, then tilted her head up to look at the snow, and said . . .
“Mommy, I can catch the snowflakes on my tongue.”
I came to a dead stop. Thoughts of traffic and work and being on time no longer existed. Nobody had ever told my beautiful, sweet little girl about the simple pleasure of catching snowflakes on her tongue. She had figured it out all on her own. In her innocence, she reminded me that sometimes, life’s most precious moments come at unexpected times, and you have to stop and smell the roses, or in our case, stop and catch the snowflakes, as it were.
I took her hand, looked up at the sky and held out my tongue. Together, we just stood there, catching snowflakes. I’m not sure how much time passed or how many flakes landed in my mouth. I do know that once we decided to move on, my daughter’s face, nearly hidden under the hat and scarf, had lit up with delight, and I became much more relaxed, the prospect of being late no longer mattered.
As time goes by, there are so many wonderful moments with Melissa that touch my heart. Some I will remember, some will fade away. But a snowy January morning, when a 3-year-old girl experienced the simple pleasure of catching snowflakes on her tongue for the very first time, will stay with me forever.
Lisa Weinstein is a South Jersey mom who blogs about parenting a teen, coping with middle age and celebrating nearly two decades of marriage. This post was adapted from her blog, The Mixed Up Brains of Lisa Weinstein.