The power went out last week.
We gathered candles and layered on clothes and talked about getting the camp stove out. We took stock of food and water. We prepared for the cold that would overtake us and the games we would play, the dishes we wouldn’t wash and the schedules we wouldn’t keep.
The kids petitioned that school would not be feasible without power and internet. They didn’t have to drive too hard a bargain with me – I was ready for s l o w and had a stack of reading material calling my name.
We braced ourselves for the worst, but inside, we all kinda looked forward to the excuse to slow down. We welcomed the interruption.
We had been watching the news and seeing the snow around the country, even around our own state. It was like we lived in a bubble where nothing exciting was happening, and even a couple hours north of us they were getting lots of snow and the schools were canceled.
It seemed like it might be our turn, because if we didn’t get snow we were at least out of power, and that limited so much of what we could do in a day.
I know that the weather has been miserable for many people lately, and I know that losing your power is not something to celebrate. But when it first comes – when the first snowflakes hit the ground or the first candles are lit in the dark – it feels exciting. It feels like vacation and permission and freedom and playing hooky from routine.
Something about a candle burning, but only one end…
I’ve thought about all those kids around the country, getting their snow days and staying home from school and thinking that was great.
We heard on the news that several schools had classes on President’s Day to make up for snow days (which my kids think is an abomination, but I think it’s quite patriotic). There is talk about the possibility of making up for all the lost days by having class on Saturdays, like many Asian countries, and extending the school day into the evening hours. Bummer.
It seems we can’t really afford to take breaks.
I feel the same stress when a child is sick or our schedule is otherwise interrupted. Even though we homeschool, I still feel this need to adhere to 180 days of school a year and the filling of imaginary quota and the marking off of tyrannical checklists.
I want to snuggle in on sick days and watch movies or read in bed, but my mind is a task master and inside I’m multiplying laundry and history lessons and dust bunnies.
You can stop, but life doesn’t wait for you. Slowing down now means sprinting to catch up later and the world keeps spinning and yada, yada, yada…
We wish the snow would fall on our Christmas vacations. We wish the power would go out when our pantry is stocked and our fireplace stoked. We welcome interruptions, but only when we’re prepared and it’s convenient. And not for too long, please.
Luckily for us, the power was back on in an hour. We had spent the whole time preparing to relax and then it was gone – the opportunity lost.
I blew out candles, started a load of laundry, and called my youngest in for a math lesson.
Yesterday, we made our own snow day. It was sunny and almost 70 degrees, but we pretended there weren’t pressing chores to do outside. We pretended that it was ok for one child to go back to bed because she was exhausted from a busy weekend. We pretended that the creek was educational (and it probably is) and that math could wait a day, and we barbecued fresh fish for dinner. We read books and watched funny videos.
We pretended that we had permission to slow down and that we didn’t care if the world was being productive without us.
Life has cycles and seasons and Sabbath and you have to choose them for yourself. You have to choose to stop in a world that spins dizzy. You have to make your own snow days, sometimes.