• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Math Geek Mom: Change in Seasons

Remembering a brutal winter.

November 13, 2014

In geometry, there is a group of transformations that change a figure on a two dimensional plane. As geometric figure might be slid along a flat surface, rotated, reflected or slid along the flat surface and reflected at the same time. Changing a figure using a combination of two or more of these transformations leads to a figure that might have been arrived at had the original figure been transformed by only one of these. I found myself thinking of these transformations recently when I realized that the weather around me was about to undergo a major transformation.

One morning recently, my daughter came bouncing up the stairs to announce to me, with a smile in her voice, “mommy, guess what?! It is snowing!” I responded with something like “great” but I admit that there was no smile in my own voice. I was immediately brought back to last winter, when the snow days piled up faster than the snow, and parents were expected to help students learn material in “blizzard bags” sent home electronically so as to not lose credit for school days with the state. I remember one such blizzard bag had my daughter telling me that I really didn’t know math, since I had taught her a concept in a different way than the teacher wanted it taught. Never mind that both gave the same answer- it was obvious to my daughter that I was someone who was just impersonating a math professor.

As I brought her to the bus, I looked at the snow that had been left during the night, and I must admit I was astounded at how beautiful it was. The roofs of the houses were covered in a layer of whiteness, while the brown lawns that had been strangled with dead leaves only a day before were now snuggled in a blanket of snow. I breathed in the crisp morning air, and wondered why I had been so unenthusiastic about the coming of winter, a season whose arrival is technically over a month away.

Oh, I remembered. It was because last winter had been so brutal. Days after days of school cancellations had piled up, and neighborhood children had found their way to my house and my lunch table as the cold shut down many of their furnaces, leaving homes almost inhabitable. My own work had been put on hold, in part because our college was also shut down for a few days, and in part because I was just too busy to think about anything more than whether it was going to be me or a babysitter who was going to take care of my daughter that day. “Cabin fever” set in, and exasperated parents sought out each other for mutual support. The thought of doing that again seemed particularly difficult, even in the beautiful early morning chill that had been kissed by a layer of snow.

I remember the first days out of a hospital twenty four years ago, after a stay there when I had been all but told that I would probably not be leaving alive. I had been amazed at the beauty of the colored fall leaves, and breathed in the air that I had not expected to breathe again. I marveled at the many times I had taken such beauty for granted and promised myself that I would always appreciate the scenery around me. Looking back at that recent morning, I wonder if I have broken that promise to myself in not being excited about the first snowfall of the season and the impending change in seasons.

And so, I want to ask my readers, how do you deal with snow days and the coming struggles with weather? Are you as excited as my daughter at the arrival of winter? If so, how do you handle the challenges that come with the new season? As I have said before to fellow parents, please tell me your secret.


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