It’s been cold down here in South Florida. Not comparable to the chill that my Northern friends have been experiencing but really cold for us, breaking a 107 year-old record the other morning that had me waking up to a temperature of 32 degrees. We’ve been running our heat for the last few days much to the chagrin of my husband. But I have a strong aversion to the cold. And a hereditary circulatory disorder called Raynaud’s that causes the blood vessels in my hands and feet to constrict when exposed to cold temperatures which then blocks the blood flow to my fingers and toes, making them turn white and go numb. So one of the many reasons I choose to live in South Florida is the temperate weather. I did live in New York City for 11 years but I think the cold didn’t bother me as much then because I was younger and my alcohol consumption was much higher.
My 12 year-old son, who was born in Manhattan, is reveling in the weather. Loves it and is dying for it to snow. He can recite the highs, lows and mid-day temperatures from the last few days and give you the forecast for the next 10 days, even if you don’t want to know. He could be the next Jim Cantore but with more hair. I had to force him to wear pants to school the other day, when the temperature was in the high 30’s, because I didn’t want the school to report me to the Department of Children and Family Services. But first we had to go to the mall to buy him the pants because he didn’t have any. He’s growing too quickly to buy him clothes until right when he needs them. Like the day before he needs them.
My 10 year-old daughter, like me, is not really keen on the cold. So, for the last few mornings, I’ve woken up before her, gone downstairs and heated her school clothes up in the dryer before taking them upstairs and gently waking her with a nice warm bundle of pants, shirt, sweatshirt, socks and underwear. And she has been very appreciative. And I have to admit I’ve been doing it partly as a pre-emptive strike to having to listen to her complain about the cold. But it also makes me happy. And makes me feel like I’m a good mother.
For some reason, I’ve wanted to share this detail, that I’ve been bringing my daughter warmed-up clothes, with everyone. Why? Why do I feel the need to “brag” about my parental doings? So that everyone else will know that I’m a good mother? I know I’m a good mother and not just because I bring my daughter warm clothes on a cold day and make the kids hot chocolate with marshmallows and poached eggs topped with melted cheese.
I think I’ve been talking about my parental doings because what I’m doing for the kids makes me happy. And it makes me feel good. It brings me unadulterated joy, a feeling I’ve written about before (Baseball = Pure Joy) but that I don’t get too often. So talking about what I’ve been doing keeps the feelings associated with those doings current, like a time-release happiness pill.
And also, I think that these are the things that my kids will remember. Not that I showed them how much I loved them by being a strict parent or tried to teach them right from wrong or was home for them after school. It’s the little things, like warm clothes, our annual family vacations, reading with them at night before they go to bed and the Shake ‘N Bake dinners that they’ll remember from their childhoods. Like I remember from mine. Honey chicken cooked in the Fry Daddy, trips to New England with lots of time spent playing in streams, frequent trips to the public library and coming home from eight weeks of working at sleep-away camp to a bedroom that had been completely cleaned and freshened up.
There’s a poem titled “When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking” that’s been circulating on the Internet, and that I got in an email the other day. It’s a little sappy. Sappier than I like to admit that I like. But it did make me tear up in a PMS kind of Hallmark card way. This is an excerpt (one version of the full poem can be found here):
of our house and everyone in it, and I learned we have
to take care of what we are given.
When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw how you
handled your responsibilities, even when you didn’t
feel good, and I learned that I would have to be
responsible when I grow up.
I hope my kids are looking. And I hope that they are learning all the things that they need to know to grow up to be good people. Happy, successful, responsible, caring people. That’s really all I want for them. And it’s really all I want for myself. That, plus warmer weather.