Editor's note: Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne.
I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but somewhere on the journey from childhood to adulthood, I began to loathe winter.
This is an annual conundrum for me, as I also happen to love autumn. But as the leaves begin to be stripped away by blustery winds and cold rain, my general outlook begins to be as gray as the overhead skies. For my husband, this transition is baffling.
“Why do you let the weather bother you so much?” he asked me recently.
“I don't let it bother me, it just does,” I responded huffily.
“But why?” he persisted. “You can't do anything about it. Just let it be what it is.”
I shook my head.
“That's just it,” I replied. “I hate what it is. Icy, cold, gray, snowy, inconvenient and just plain depressing.”
“How is it inconvenient?” he asked.
“Because,” I said pointedly, “I am restrained by it. When the roads are slick or snow-covered, I can't do what I want. And — I hate being cold.”
He rolled his eyes at what I'm sure he perceived as blatant pessimism. I didn't care, though. I felt very validated in my opinion.
My children, however, were on a completely different page.
When the first snow fell, they gathered at the window and gleefully watched it accumulate. We couldn't get their snowsuits on fast enough. I watched them happily move their bundled little bodies around awkwardly in the snow, and suddenly, I had a flashback to my own youth.
It was such a vibrant memory that for a split second I could actually feel the joy of being a kid in the winter: when the cold doesn't feel cold, and the world looks like a soft playground just awaiting creativity. I immediately recognized that even though I now resented the season, I couldn't be a damper on my kids' enjoyment of it.
So, in the midst of the elements I detest, I put on a happy face and jumped head first into winter activities. I still hated being wet and cold, but the cloudy days did seem to be a little less cumbersome. My kids' bright smiles breathed new life into the atmosphere.
One morning, our entire family decided to layer up and go on a sledding adventure. This is normally the type of activity I dread; the epitome of soaked and freezing, with the added bonus of being completely winded by trudging up a hill repeatedly. But in keeping to my personal oath, I went into it with (my best attempt at) a good attitude.
We piled the kids in their giant sled and they sailed down the hill, their giggles trailing after them. My husband and I ran after them, and as we pulled them back to the top, I couldn't help but grin at their delight.
“You ready to do this?” my husband asked me with a mischievous grin.
“Do what?” I asked blankly.
“Go down this hill!” he said with a laugh.
“Oh, I'm, uh … no, I don't think I should … .”
“Get in,” he said simply.
I took a deep breath and sat down with my kids. I peered at the hill in front of me warily, and momentarily thought about jumping ship.
“Mom, I'm so excited you're coming with us!” my son exclaimed.
That sealed it. There was no turning back. I was going down that hill.
One solid push from my husband, and we were in flight. I yelped like a little girl, but as the momentum picked up, I joined my kids in a chorus of adrenaline-packed laughter. When we finally came to a stop, we looked at each other with the euphoria of our shared experience.
It was in that moment that I became extremely grateful.
That was the moment I realized that winter could actually be kind of fun. I recognized that just because I was an adult didn't mean I couldn't tap into the joys of childhood. And I suddenly understood that every winter I wish away actually costs me another three months with my kids that I can never get back.
The days of puffy snowsuits and snow angels are few and fleeting; and I decided I wasn't going to spend another second wasting them as I wait for spring.
Spring will certainly come. So will my kids' adulthood (and much faster than I want). Every minute now — snowy or not — is one to embrace.
“Should we do it again?” I asked them with a smile.
“YES!!!” they replied in unison.
We all hopped back in the sled. I wrapped my arms tightly around them, and off we went.