I just put my 15-month-old son down for a nap. My 1-month-old is in my arms regurgitating milk from his last feeding. And while my mind is telling me to take a nap while I can, I’m looking at the sun, secretly wishing for more snow. Yes, you read that right — snow. More of it.
I smell of thrown-up formula. I may smell of other stuff, too. Smells that have now become a part of me. Smells I can’t tell anymore. Like my children, who have always been a part of me. No, not metaphorically, but literally. We were the same body before they were born. And now it’s as if they are still my appendages. Body parts that are not my body parts, but are my most important, inseparable body parts. And then there are the smells.
For once, I’d like to smell of nothing. For once, I’d like to smell something smell-less. Like snow. Clean. Pristine. Stark white. Impeccable. Maybe I’ve been craving a small break from motherhood. I found that break in snow — in letting it accumulate on my driveway and patio, and then in shoveling it. Marie Kondo tells us to throw out all that doesn’t give us joy. I found joy in throwing out something that has always given me joy. While excessive snow is an “event” here in Wisconsin, it was the norm where I grew up in the Himalayas. Our rose bushes, heavy and stooping with all the snow, used to serve as winter slides when we were kids. If you looked farther than the rose bushes, you could see Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva, snow-clad year-round. My father would go to work in his government-allotted 4-by-4 Gypsy, its wheels covered in chains when the roads were too icy. My brother and I and our sheep dog loved snow, rolling around like pandas in it, then standing in a line as we all were reprimanded for behaving like pandas when none of us were pandas.
Now that I am an adult and a mother, snow is a way to reclaim my body — shoveling snow, to be precise. For over a year, I have felt out of control over anything that I do. Simple acts such as sleeping. There’s only one way you can sleep when you’re pregnant. There is no way you can sleep once the children arrive. Then there’s the realization that you don’t get your body back once the children are here. You lose it even more. Then there’s snow. Cool. Silent. Soft. Stench-less. Shoveling snow translates into strength for me. Even though I may be sleep-deprived, barely able to pick myself up, yet I pick that shovel up and do what needs to be done. My arms that cradle my children all day long have the strength to do much more, too.
When people complained of Wisconsin being Wisconsin, I rejoiced. When they predicted more snow, my heart jumped with joy. There’d be more to shovel. More control over something I do. In the last one year, I haven’t been able to finish even one book. I started reading many of them, but finished zero, cipher. There — that perhaps is the biggest confession of my life. I’m reading a book these days — “History of Wolves.” My Kindle tells me there are “6 hours 44 mins” left in the book. I start to wonder how much time I wasted reading that notification, if you will. Then I wonder how much time I wasted wondering that. I will never have 6 hours 44 mins to myself. But shoveling doesn’t take six hours. It takes shorter than my kids’ nap time. And it’s done in one go.
Maybe completion is what makes shoveling even more covetable. I know I’ll be able to complete it. I know I’ll have to complete it. There’s no point in leaving your driveway half-shoveled. Unlike my reading, this cannot be interrupted. This is essential. I’m tired of unfinished jobs — half-written articles, half-folded laundry, only a portion of the house cleaned at a time, half-read books, unfinished sleep, half-eaten food (I could sleep for a month without waking up). Only the snow gets thrown out completely. It calls for the same urgency that my children do. And I get it done. While I get exhausted with my children, shoveling snow rejuvenates me so I can go back to being a mother with renewed energy. It’s one job I can complete aside from mothering my children. So, yes, please. Snow. More of it.
Nidhi Kaith is a freelance writer who lives in Eau Claire, Wis.