Hi, it’s me. I’m sending a secret message from the inside. And when I say inside, of course I mean the inside of …
Yes, I’m in prison. I’ve been here since about October and I’m not sure how long my sentence will be. Some say April, but I think that estimate is blindly optimistic. If my last sentence is any indication, my release back into society could be as prolonged as late May. That is, if I’m lucky. At this point, my chance at freedom feels like the Broncos 2014 Superbowl performance: Dismal at best.
So, where am I imprisoned and who put me here? Well, if you can believe it, I am a prisoner in my very own home. And I was wrongly put here by none other than the hellacious, ruthless Winter.
That’s right, I am in Winter Prison.
You may be saying, “Ok Tracy, likening prison and winter is a bit extreme.” And to that I respectfully answer: No. I will tell you what is extreme; negative 40 degree windchill! Days on end with no sun. Every tree looking like a naked, looted creature with gaping battle wounds from last winter. Wind practically ripping the paint off your car. Children afflicted with winter illnesses for weeks and months. And the cold that literally freezes your feet to the tundra!
Now, those things? Those things are extreme.
Speaking of extreme, are the weather reports not extremely depressing/hilarious lately? I have never in my life heard of a one-syllable temperature being described as a “warm-up”. And, yes, thank you Mr. Weatherman for adding "bitter" to your description of the cold — as if any of us needed a reminder. And my true favorite is when we are given a Winter Weather “Advisory,” when in fact Mr. Weatherman should really just be shouting with wildly alarming gestures; “Gird your loins! If you go outside, you will surely die!”
I was so cold the other day, I found myself thinking about putting my face under a lamp shade just to see if the exposure to a light and heat source would perhaps but for a moment bring the pigment cells -- that ran for the hills at the first mention of negative temps -- back to the surface of my skin. But, that idea, I realize now, was a low point. Instead, I just went on Facebook and saw all my California friends posting pictures of sunsets and beaches and I imagined myself ripping their camera out of their warm, tan little hands … Then I stopped and realized; yes, this was another low point.
Prison is getting to me.
However, I am not the only one. I’ve spoken to other parents and the story is the same; we are all being held captive. But not just because of the cold, but due to truly the worst part about winter: The illnesses that attack our children. Within just our little circle of playmates, the stomach flu, RSV, pneumonia, flu, strep, bronchitis, and the common cold have touched one or more of our homes. Leaving all of us ramshackled, haunted by Disney songs in our sleep, and quarantined to our homes.
Needless to say, I think I speak for all citizens and parents of the region when I say we are ready to post bail and hightail it on out of Winter Prison. But, in the midst of my “winter is death” mantra a dear friend gently reminded me that when there is no sunshine outside, we just have to make our own sunshine inside — and I don’t think she meant sticking my head under a lamp shade.
So, during what I hope will be the final weeks of our imprisonment, I’m going to try to soak up the extra time and sick cuddles with my little one and enjoy the close quarters while it lasts. Because when Spring comes; you better believe I’m going to be the crazy mother with no tan at the park running around like Mel Gibson in Braveheart shouting “Freeeedom!”