— January 1993 —
“Odile, come on, let’s get dressed and go play outside!”
Those words set off a wave of panic in my 8-year-old mind. No, I don’t want to go play outdoors. If you haven’t noticed, it’s winter.
I live in front of a large park with a large hill that’s perfect for tobogganing – the stuff of kids’ dreams. Except me. But my mom doesn’t give me a choice, not when I’m eight in any case. I have to go outside and “have fun.”
The one consolation: There is always hot chocolate milk when I get back. I focus on that as I slide down the hill with snow flying in my face, when my mittens are wet not warm, and when my nose keeps running, making me miss my cozy blanket and book Club des Baby-Sitters that are waiting for me in my room.
Returning home, my mom finds the three of us, my little brother and sister and I, too adorable with our rosy cheeks and snow-encrusted hair. If it were 2016, she would have immediately snapped a picture and shared it on Instagram.
— January 1998 —
“Odile, your brother and sister are going to play outside. Are you going to join them?”
I am 13 now, so I exercise my right to decide: no, thanks! I am going to stay home and watch an episode of Watatatow. Besides, when my brother and sis come back with frozen cheeks, I can still join them for a little hot chocolate.
— January 2005 —
Now I am all grown up. I rarely go out in the winter. Except to drink mochaccinos in cool cafés.
— January 2016 —
“Mom, come with us!” My kids and husband look like they are having a great time in the backyard. I tell myself I should try to enjoy it. After all, that’s what a mom is supposed to do, right?
So I stick my nose outside. Put a big smile on my face. And head out into the snow. I make snow angels with my daughter, a snowman with my son, and against all expectations (well, mine in any case), I have fun. At least just enough to convince myself I should do it more often. I even tell my husband that we should all go tobogganing next weekend in the nearby park. He’s clearly delighted with the suggestion. I enjoy the sweet reassurance of feeling almost normal. Perhaps I am learning to actually like winter? I really think so. Proof that you should never say never (Justin Bieber has it right).
But let’s be honest, what I will always enjoy most of all is the hot chocolate that comes after those winter outings… and the wonderful pictures that capture my kids’ rosy cheeks, which, of course, are all on Instagram!