Single Parent Snow Survival ………

Both my son and I are home bodies. There is nothing we like more than staying at home in our comfy clothes and chillaxing with our creature comforts to hand. So even I was surprised by how the recent heavy downpour of snow has affected us.

I love the snow. I love the time with my son. But my patience I noticed, started to wear thin. My six year old  son seemed to  turn into a  teenager during the last three days of  our isolated captivity. But the cause of it all, I’m afraid to say, was me being stressed.

When the news first came about the dangerous weather conditions that were about to come our way, I put a plan into action to be prepared for any eventuality. Food, supplies, petrol, torches, blankets, hot water bottles. But what if the electricity went off? How would I cook for my boy? He eats very little at the best of time. I spent a small fortune on emergency snacks and food that wouldn’t need cooking! And then I remembered I have a portable gas camping stove, panic over!

What if the water pipes froze? Water is essential to life! Off back to the supermarket, ashamed of the amount of plastic bottles I purchased. Plus I filled all of my pots and pans with water, just in case!

What if my son got poorly? Another supermarket trip to stock up on calpol and nurofen.

The sole responsibility of a child is enormous. Overwhelmingly enormous at times like this. But its snowing! It hasn’t snowed this much in 5 years. Rory had just turned one when we had the last big snowfall and obviously wouldn’t remember what it was like. It was an exciting time!

For a little boy who lives in shorts and has a full on protest when he has to wear trousers to leave the house, I wasn’t looking forward to introducing the clothing that he needed to wear out in the -5 degree blizzard weather. To my surprise, the thermals, jumpers and waterproofs went on without trauma and my boy couldn’t wait to get outside.

The sledge I had bought last year just in case it snowed, was in the garden. Rain water had gathered in it over the months. An old camping chair had fallen into the sledge which had become embedded into a huge frozen block in the sledge! 10 kettles of boiled water later and the camping chair was free, as was the sledge!

Watching my son experience snow at this age was purely magical. All he wanted to do was throw himself down and roll in it. He rolled himself down a bank and said it was the best day of his life! Strong winds prevented us from staying out too long so we retreated back to the safety of our home. We had a quick play in the garden before locking up for the night. But the door would not lock. The extreme temperature had affected the locking mechanism. Big panic. Having a safe environment for my son is paramount. Snow was preventing anyone from travelling so there was no one to call upon to help us. Now I was going to have to barricade us into the bedroom and hope we wouldn’t get burgled over night. The police would never get to us. We were doomed. After 2 hours of frantically forcing the door handle, it miraculously locked again. What a relief!

Petrified of the boiler not working and our house freezing, I kept the heating on all day and night. So far so good. No frozen pipes. Just an extortionate gas bill to come!

I had forgotten to collect my prescription from the supermarket pharmacy so we got snow suited again and navigated our way through thick snow. We have very little to do with our neighbours but we did knock on their doors asking if they needed anything, a lesson in humanity I wanted to demonstrate to Rory.

The prescription was wrong! The pharmacy assistant was rude. Not the best day to piss me off. These are the tablets I take to help stop my breast cancer from returning, I need them! Now there wasn’t  going to be a delivery until the roads were clear. Rory started whining and refused to walk back! He had already started removing his ‘itchy’ clothing which was going to take another half an hour to put back on. “Can I have a treat mum?” Absobloodylutely! I want one too! And some beer!

Back home, I was getting grumpy and shouty. My darling little boy was glued to me. He wouldn’t let me go to the toilet alone. I had a much needed bath and he sat on the toilet waiting for me to get out. He wouldn’t sleep in his own bed. We painted, made cakes, played board games and imaginative games. We tidied our rooms and sorted out the toys. But still I was grumpy and impatient, as was Rory. At one point I told him he was grounded! Anyone who knows me, knows this is totally out of character. I like to think of myself as a gentle parent. We do ‘Time in’ as opposed to the solitary confinement of ‘Time Out’. We respect each other and talk things through. But I was losing the plot. I even stopped tablet and TV time for a brief time. Who does that when they are stuck indoors for a few days? More fool me and I took it back very quickly!

Deep rooted memories of not being able to leave the house when I had cancer, came flooding back. Not being in control. Feeling trapped, isolated and lonely. I was panicked.  I had longed for snow for so long, to share that experience with Rory at an age he would remember in case anything happened to me, but I was not coping with it well.

I kept seeing wonderful pictures of families enjoying the snow. When there are 2 adults, the organisation, preparation and responsibility is halved. There are opportunities for respite. Single parents do it all. Building snowmen and sledging is exhausting! Digging out your car and driveway is exhausting. Drying snow covered clothes and saturated floors are exhausting. Maintaining an adequately heated home with plenty of food and water as well as entertaining a little person is exhausting. Living 24/7 with a little person is exhausting! I can cope with most things but being isolated without adult contact is no good for me. Our local supermarket café remained open, so that is where we walked to every day. They only served drinks but just being around people was a tonic in itself. Had our local pub been open (closed for refurbishment, how rude!), I know I would have dragged Rory on the sledge for some social interaction and for my sanity! We live out of the catchment area for Rory’s school which made it impossible for him to play in the snow with his school buddies.

I have loved seeing Rory love the snow. I have loved seeing how people come together to help each other. I am so grateful for the lengths people go to, for services to be kept open and running. My Dad is on his chemo week and although he lives 120 miles away, I know that if he couldn’t get himself to the hospital, somehow his community would get him there. I remember many years ago getting stranded in my home town when heavy snow started to fall. My Dad did everything he could to come and rescue me! My son’s own father who lives less than five miles away and has access to emergency vehicles, hasn’t once asked if we need any supplies. Not once thanked me for keeping my boy warm or offered any money for the added expense of keeping him warm during these extreme temperatures. Not once thanked me for giving my son the best day of his life! Not once thanked me for being mum and dad to Rory.

Thank goodness I was eventually able to dig the car out of the drive. Meeting a friend at soft play made all of my stress disappear. Sanity resumed!

I love my son more than anything. I love being with my son more than anything. But I am glad he has gone back to school today. I will be a much better mummy for it this week as all activities have been resumed! Our passports are at the ready though. As soon as I hear that snow is expected in future, we will be on the first flight out of here to a much sunnier climate!

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