2 p.m. pre-storm: The school department cancels school 18 hours before the first bell would ring. This almost never happens. The kids haven’t even had a chance to go to bed with their pajamas on inside out. It’s like someone has spilled the beans about a surprise birthday party.
There are two consequences. First, I can’t force the kids to bed at 8 p.m. “just in case there is school tomorrow.” The kids have been given a free Saturday night in the middle of the week. On the other hand, there won’t be a cacophony of alarms and school-department messages tomorrow morning.
During all other snow storms, I knew, in the way that moms (especially moms with weather apps) know, that the kids probably wouldn’t have school the next day. Yet I still made the kids—who didn’t “just know”—go to bed at 8, “because you never know” (unless you have an hour-by-hour weather forecast). Then I stayed up late, watched The Bachelor and painted my toenails until midnight.
It was like a free weekend … until the next morning when the alert echoed from the answering machine, my cell phone rang and all of our text apps chimed.
6 p.m. pre-storm: Despite having been to the grocery store 24 hours earlier, I go again. If there is going to be a shortage of electricity and food, I won’t be caught without my favorite pineapple fruit bars.
People are going crazy in the aisles. Water and bread are disappearing from the shelves. I roll my eyes, but by aisle seven, I’m throwing canned soup and non-perishable snacks into my basket. I contemplate freeze-dried food. I Google “how long will canned vegetables last in an apocalypse.”
7 p.m. pre-storm: I tell the kids I’m too tried from the grocery store to make dinner. Side note: I never want to make dinner after I’ve been to the grocery store.
We order pizza.
10 p.m. pre-storm: The mainstream media is already beginning to downplay the Storm to End All Storms. My kids are wrestling each other upstairs. Lindell is literally sliding across the floor inside a laundry basket.
11:30 p.m. pre-storm: I fall asleep on the couch. I have my pajamas on the right way, hoping for a school day tomorrow.
8 a.m.: Six-foot snow drifts are no joke. You can lose a dog in drifts like that. Except, not our big, crazy hunting dog, who literally plows his way through the drifts, then runs back inside and shakes it all off onto the kitchen floor.
9 a.m.: The first “I’m bored” is heard in the Smiley house.
9:01 a.m.: I send the boys outside with shovels.
11 a.m.: The boys want to go sledding—in a blizzard. I wonder what part of “stay in your pajamas and watch movies all day” they don’t understand.
Noon: I learn that the “horrible” snow day -— you know, the one where they slept in, went sledding and ate leftover pizza -— is my fault. Not coincidentally, everything else in the world is my fault, too. I’m a rotten mother.
12:30 p.m.: Everyone wants to eat. Again.
12:35 p.m.: I provide ice cream. I am the world’s greatest mother.
2 p.m.: I’m guilted into playing Super Mario Brothers on the Wii because I “never, ever do anything fun with [my kids]. Not ever.” I wonder why they’ve forgotten about the Pictionary game we played, and the ice cream! I am literally hoping for a power outage.
3 p.m.: I tell the kids I need to get work done. “But it’s a snow day,” they say.
4 p.m.: If I hear “we’re bored” or “I’m hungry” one more time, I will scream something dramatic.
Them: “We’re bored.”
Me: “Why do you guys even hope for snow days? You act miserable! Maybe you actually like school. Have you ever thought of that? Maybe you should hope for school days. I’m going to start sleeping with my pajamas on right every single night so that we never have a snow day again.”
4:02 p.m.: I’m a terrible mother.
8 p.m.: I send everyone to their beds because “there will be school tomorrow.” If I have to go out and shovel the roads myself, there will be school tomorrow.
5 a.m. the next day: Cell phones are ringing. The answering machine is blaring. Texts are dinging. It’s a snow day. Again.
I go downstairs, prepared to tell the kids that I will rip the Wii out of the wall and serve canned peas for lunch if they fight or whine once during the day.
But no one is there. They are all outside shoveling.
I go back to bed, satisfied that at least once, somewhere along the way, I must have done something right.