A lot can be said about winters up here in North Dakota, but for anyone who has lived through one (or one hundred), whether new to the area or born and raised, we all have January in common.
January is hard. It’s cold. It’s the longest month no matter how well things are going. And I’m guessing it’s the number one reason that half of our 65 and older population lives in Arizona during those thirty days. They’ve learned their lessons…
Being a mom to young kids in North Dakota in January is no joke. All I have done today is wipe noses, mine included. And when you live 40 minutes from civilization, the isolation can weigh heavy on the days that feel hard.
I admit, I wondered if I should publish a piece in all of those newspapers about how I cried on my basement floor surrounded by all of my first world problems and so many of the things I’ve always wished for. But then I thought, well, there is likely another mom somewhere out there crying on her basement floor, and, well, I don’t want to feel alone either.
I sat on the floor in the basement and cried.
I cried while my 3-year-old’s voice bubbled and babbled a narrative for her dolls as they navigated the new house her auntie snagged for them secondhand last week.
I cried while my 1-year-old wobbled over to hand me her little karaoke microphone because it was my 150th turn, so I smiled and gave her another little “la, la, la,” because that’s what mommas do, even when they’re crying.
Even when they have nothing to cry about really, except, sometimes, I’ve come to understand, that even the best of us have our moments, or days (or weeks or months), where it all feels a little heavy on us. Not just the hard stuff, but the good stuff, too. Because even the snuggly, sweet and syrupy things we’ve always wished for come with crumbs we have to sweep up sometimes.
And so it was the smallest disagreement as my husband walked out the door after the waffles were half-eaten and the dishes were put in the sink that made me feel like maybe I will never have the crumbs under control.
And then, when the door clicked shut, it was a moment of loneliness tacked onto a selfish feeling of maybe not being OK missing the only thing I don’t have that I want, which is a moment to walk to the top of that hill out there and get away from the crumbs I used to pray so hard for when I was just me.
So I cried. And I let myself because sometimes, it’s possible to be grateful and frustrated.
Sometimes, it’s possible to be lonesome for ourselves. Motherhood isn’t the only thing that taught me that.
January in North Dakota is good at loneliness. And so I cried for a bit. And then I stopped and carried on through the afternoon, trying to think of ways to tend to the ache.
I read an extra book or two to the toddler and laid down to close my eyes with the baby for a few moments. And when my daughters woke up, fresh and sweet, I turned on some music and watched them both twirl, so innocent and so unaware of the cold outside.
And when my husband walked through that door after a long day of working on the outdoor chores I desperately wished I could be helping with, it occurred to me that on the other side of these walls, he might have been wishing to be dancing while I was wishing for the bite of that wind.
I looked at his face and the lump our morning exchange left in my chest dissolved, reminding me that this is life. And I’m OK.
So I cooked us supper, my husband, my daughters and me. And we all made crumbs we left for tomorrow so we could head down to the basement, sit on the floor together and laugh.