Today, for no good reason, I’m feeling brittle and fragile and on-the-edge. I am full of rage and disappointment at no one and everyone, nothing and everything. It is early afternoon, and in an hour I have to go and pick up my kids. I should be doing my Finnish homework, but instead I am sitting in a café, looking out despondently at the falling snow. I don’t know quite why, but I’m just about at the end of my rope.
I started the day tired, after a bad night’s sleep.
(Little Sister is discovering dreams, and currently wakes up multiple times per night shrieking my name, exclaiming loudly about what she just saw, firmly believing that it was all true.
[sitting up in bed and sobbing with wild abandon] “Mummy’s not THEEEERE! She’s gone! Mummy’s GOOOONE!”
[sitting up in bed and yelling at high volume] “Someone BROKE MY SUNGLASSES! On purpose! They are brooookeeeen!”
[sitting up in bed in an indignant huff] “The new cow is called SNUNNY! That’s his name, silly. Hmph!”)
Then, for some reason (no doubt related to her own broken sleep) Little Sister decided this morning that she was going to opt out of day-care. Her initial efforts to implement this decision (engaging in fake coughing during breakfast, refusing to have clothes put on her, and calmly informing me of her Day-Care Embargo during the bus ride into town) failed, but Little Sister is not a quitter. For the entire fifteen-minute walk from Big Sister’s preschool to Little Sister’s day-care, she sat in her stroller and alternately cried and shrieked and shouted about how much she didn’t want to go to day-care, as I slid on the icy footpath and bent my head against the snow pelting stingingly into my eyes, trying to make soothing platitudes issue forth reassuringly from my mouth, but finding their calming effect was negligible because Little Sister could only hear me over the wind and the traffic if I raised my voice to a shout.
I finally got to my Finnish class, and had one of those days where I had to look up more words than I understood, drew a blank at words I knew we’d already studied, and nearly cried when I couldn’t conjugate a type-1 verb in the present passive. This was one of those days I could not summon any energy or patience; could not find any elation in learning a new foreign language one baby step at a time. I just felt overwhelmed and tearful and defeated, and as I walked down the corridor on my way out a couple of shameful big-girl tears dripped down my cheeks.
I opened the street door to find that during the hours I had been inside, the snow had not let up at all, and was now ankle-deep and rising. A sudden sense of blind fury rose in my chest, momentarily overpowering the despair and pissed-offedness already simmering within. Never mind that we’ve had it easy this winter. Only two months of snow so far, and not even that many days of temperatures colder than -15, and yet, I have just had a GUTFUL of the cold and the snow. I am sick of dragging deadweight strollers and sleds laden with children through thick, porridgey snow and over slippery ice; sick of having freezing snowballs thrown excitedly at me; sick of feeling cold despite layers and layers of clothes; sick of reminding my three year old multiple times a day not to reach out of the stroller and swipe at banked-up, dirty, dog-wee-covered snow and put it into her mouth; sick of trying to be a good mother and forcing myself to remain with my kids in the park long after I’ve had enough of standing there in the cold, knowing that no matter how long I remain stoic, the minute I announce that we’re leaving they will still cry and whine because they would stay, revelling delightedly in the snow and ice, for three bloody hours if I let them.
It does no one any good to rage against the weather, but to hell with it.
I am also angry (in no particular order) about the following: the fact that I love ice cream but lately it has inexplicably turned on me and gives me brutal stomach aches; the fact that I can’t manage to get my house key out of my bag and into the lock without taking off my gloves, and thirty seconds without gloves is a hand-freezing eternity when it’s -10; the fact that our building management has decreed that we must not leave anything in the
echoing expanse of space corridor outside our apartment door and that therefore
our tiny front hallway is now crammed with a stroller, a sled, an enormous plastic box containing
the kids’ outside toys, and the whole family’s winter boots dripping dirty
puddles of melted snow endlessly onto the floor; the fact that I would love to work
as a lawyer again someday – sooner rather than later - but I cannot for the
life of me find a way to do that and still be there for my kids, let alone sleep,
let alone have some kind of a life outside work and kids; the fact that I have
so much to be grateful for and yet today I feel inexplicably low and cranky and
cannot manage to shake it off.
Today it is a bad, dark day inside my head. It’s as though someone has turned the lights off and moved the light switch beyond my grasp, and the culprit is hiding somewhere in the darkness, taunting and mocking me in a soft, cruel voice.
Life may be wonderful and beautiful and a gift, but today I’m royally pissed off at it.
Part 2: Wednesday
I can’t quite believe the change that came over me this morning, when (noticing that the room was oddly bright) I looked out of the window and saw The Prodigal Sun rising in the sky.
Suddenly, everything was ok again.
It is gorgeously sunny in Helsinki today – clear blue skies, brilliant sunshine that actually feels warm, and temperatures above zero! This is weather we haven’t had for weeks and months, and everyone’s spirits are soaring. The air is full of hope; infused with the heady promise of spring.
It is early afternoon. I have an hour to myself before I have to go and pick up my kids. I should be doing my Finnish homework, but instead I am sitting in a café, defiantly eating ice cream as the sun pours in through the floor-to-ceiling glass window beside me. After months of bitter chill, right now I am toasty warm. I am actually sweating a little bit. It is thrilling in the extreme.
This day and this sun and the sense of hope in the air have literally given me a new lease on life. This time yesterday, I was the same person, sitting in exactly the same café as I am today, and yet today everything is different. Everything is better.
Life is strange like that.
All you have to do is wait for the sun.