Katy, my eleven year old, left for a ski weekend with some family friends tonight.

I dropped her off about nine pm. She packed her own bag. I remembered the toothbrush.

I got home and found the leash. I slipped the clip thru her collar and led Sophie The Sweet outside. I was surprised- she did not pause when she saw that the snow, and the sleet, and the sidewalks lined with sharp salt crystals- it was all still out there. Tonight, she led the way.

I’ve a head cold for weeks, tonight it felt like there was a spike stuck thru the middle of my forehead. I put on O. A. R. on Spotify. Snow started to fall. We walked down the middle of the street, Sophie and I. The flakes glowed in the dark and took their time on the way down. It was only 9:30 but the houses were dark, and the cars were all parked and cold in their driveways . It was our world, our black, white, and wet world. As my headache fell away, I turned up the music.

We went around the block about three times, which is a record for us. Lately, Sophie wonders everyday when we are going to move to Florida or at the very least, invest in a litter box the size of our guest bathroom.

I miss Katy, and I have the feeling that the next couple of years, I’m going to missing both my kids a lot.

At the same time, I hope there’s time for me to know them, in between games and tests and snapchats and swim meets and all of the stuff that has already started to pull them away.

I want to know what their favorite music is, and what they like to eat, and how much sleep they need and what makes them laugh. Because I think these things have begun to change and I know in many cases, I will be the last to know a lot, but I do want to know.

I hope I can send them away when it’s time, with grace and a little bit of me, but not too soon. And I hope I don’t try to hold on.

But that when I want to, I hope I know to find the leash, and to slip the the clip thru the collar.

I’ll wait for Sophie to gather herself and lead me outside.

And I’ll walk, and sing along to the music, and let time pass while I circle the block. And I”ll let time pass while Sophie and I circle the block without looking at my watch, or wishing that it would just stop.

Sophie prays

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Letter from New England

February 14, 2015

Milton, Massachusetts feels like another planet. (For those of you not in New England and aren’t interested in watching the weather channel to hear about the weather in New England, we’ve had some snow.)

The ground is elevated about two feet, it is glows ivory under the moon.

Katy and I went to Andrews Park last night. Instead of swinging on swings or throwing a frisbee, my girl scrambled up the side of a glacier. For the first time in her life, she cried out “I’m king of the glacier.” I didn’t follow her up to the peak, I don’t want to be king of a glacier. It’s never going to make my bucket list.

The sidewalks are lined by white walls about five feet tall. People are more prone to lean on their horns in traffic and more likely to make conversation while waiting in line for coffee. Of course, all anyone talks about is the weather, or shoveling because of the weather, or where they are going to escape the weather. But there is a sense of – we’re all in the same frosty boat, let’s share a moment and make it suck a little less.

We aren’t traveling this February vacation, so it helps a little, with the overall frustration, the shovel/bad hair day burnout, and the claustrophobia, to try to see my hometown through a strangers eyes.

It is a beautiful, fierce, quiet place at night. People stay home, even the teenagers. The only noise comes when a car gets stuck and the peace is shattered by gears grinding and wheels spinning. Or when the plows go through and all the dogs bark because they are convinced it’s the end of the world. It’s the end of the world about three times a night.

During the day, all the white blinds people. I walk the dogs, with my hand shielding my eyes, like a farmer surveying a field. I’m looking for spots with the least slush, and a path wide enough to accommodate me and two dogs. Both of the dogs require large amounts of personal space. I try to do my best for all of the people and animals I love right now. We all need to be extra kind to each other while we live in this strange, cold world.

Of course, when there is finally a few days without snow, it will look a little less ethereal and exotic and a little more this is what comes out of the car exhaust and the Christmas puppy.

But I don’t think that’s going to happen for a while.

My son was due at a game at 8, so we left at 7:30. The Parish where his team plays is only a mile away, but he wanted Gatorade and I wanted to take my time.

When I tried to pull out of the driveway, I got stuck in a snow drift. I gunned the engine. I spun the wheel. I tried to reverse. I spun the wheel. I snarled at Colin to get out of the car and “do something.”

He hopped out, ran to my side of the car, watched my wheel spin in mountain of ice and more ice, thru his hands up in the air.

I told him to get back in the car.

Well, I didn’t tell him anything. I think I honked, twice.

He got in, eyes looked straight forward. I gunned the engine, hit reverse, thru the car into drive and somehow, something somewhere gave. The car rocked forward, then shot back, straight into a snow bank six feet high.

I put my foot on the gas, and we lurched forward towards the gas station, toward the church, toward all the other mini vans shuttling their boys to the game on a night that really should have seen everyone home wearing flannel or footsie pajamas.

I said- “Colin, you gotta believe in me. I’m a complete bad ass!”

I had broken a wall of snow and ice. I had conquered my minivan and made it my b^&*ch.

“Mom, bad asses don’t tell people their bad asses.”

All of the sudden, there I was.- a suburban mom in a 2008 Dodge Caravan with an unfortunate predilection for listening to Eminem at the gym.

I dropped him off and wished him luck.

So maybe driving in the snow doesn’t make me tough.

But I got him to his game on time. And I didn’t bang my fists on the steering wheel, or curse New England in February or try to run over a squirrel.

So maybe I’m not a bad ass.

But this winter has made me fierce as hell.

Bring. It. On.