• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Snow Day

Enjoying the day off.

February 1, 2015

Last week, our family, like many in the Northeast, prepared to be snowed in. We bought staples and snacks, and wine. We tried to catch up on emails and phone calls in case we lost service. We located all of the candles and flashlights, and the crank-operated radio that someone gave us years ago and we keep forgetting we have.

On Monday, our mayor declared a state of emergency, and our governor announced that he was shutting down public transportation. According to many MTA workers, the governor's move wouldn't have made sense even if the snowpocalypse had actually bombarded NYC, but our family was grateful. It meant that offices had to close early on Monday, and we couldn't travel on Tuesday, so going in to work/school was impossible.

Ben loves his college program, and Bill and I both feel a strong sense of responsibility to our jobs — Bill because he has a strong work ethic generally, and I because, although I am a lazy slug in many ways, I am settling back into a supervisory position in a clinic that serves patients at high risk of harming themselves and I don't take that lightly. All of us are hard, dedicated workers.

Yet we celebrated our snow day like kids who had been reprieved from a math exam we hadn't studied for. We stayed in our pajamas most of the day. We made vegetarian chili and popcorn, and ate it in front of the TV. We finally caught up on Broadchurch episodes, and watched the latest Elementary. Bill napped while Ben and I sang together and argued good-naturedly about whether it is preferable to write predictable music that sounds beautiful, or challenging, "important" music that nobody (except Ben and his fellow musicians) wants to listen to. Of course we reversed sides when the conversation flipped over to literature and drama.

It was a great day. There was so much I could have accomplished that I did not even look at, and uncharacteristically for me, I didn't feel a bit guilty at the end of a completely unproductive day.

Bill and I have suffered from numerous serious health issues over the past few years, and although we are both doing pretty well now, obviously the story doesn't end well for anyone. In addition to my "real" work, I have been getting a lot of film work, and some wonderful opportunities to perform improv, that take me away from home. Ben is increasingly independent, and as he becomes increasingly accomplished both as a session musician and as an audio technician, he is spending more and more extracurricular time in recording studios and in tech booths at live performances. All day family gatherings, in which all three of us are able bodied and available for fun, used to be such a common occurrence they barely registered. Now they are occasions for wholehearted celebration.

Late Tuesday, a friend suggested in a facebook post that we make this an annual tradition—that we all agree on an arbitrarily selected day in which the roads, transportation systems, and places of business are shut down, and everyone is encouraged to stay quietly at home. He suggested calling it "Municipal Exhaustion Day." I am all for it.

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