I’ve been counting a lot lately.
I’ve been counting the number of winter storms, the amount of ice and snow dumped upon us each round, the number of snow days and delays from work and school, the hours trying to keep three kids and three pets entertained and active, and the number of weeks left until spring and summer.
At first, the snow days were awesome. Sledding. Hot cocoa. The sweet excitement of falling snowflakes. More time to clean up the house. More time with the kids. Yet a dozen winter weather events one right after the other can really kill the buzz.
As I wrote last week, we’re done with the snow. Yet as I type this, DC is getting another six inches of snow and ice dumped on us.
Throughout all these winter storms, it quickly — very, very quickly — became obvious that any attempt to clean or organize this house was a colossal waste of time because three children cooped up so many hours for so many days eventually evolve into a explosive whirlwind of energy that disrupts and destroys any order around them.
So what are two frustrated, winter-weary parents to do?
Over the weekend, we pulled out the gorilla suit.
Our first floor is laid out like a loop through the kitchen, the dining room, and the living room. While we normally don’t allow the kids to run around, we’ve laxed the rule lately and have jumped into the ruckus ourselves.
Usually, I assume the role of Monster, chasing them and grabbing them into a brief tickle fight before letting them go. More times than not, I sound more like a dinosaur than a monster, but just as long as I’m loud and pop out from various corners, the kids get a good laugh.
Over the weekend, though, as I made a lap, I tapped Martin on the back as he sat working on the computer. I didn’t say anything, but just pointed to the kids who were rounding the corner up ahead of me.
No words needed. Martin got up and slipped down into the basement. I grabbed my cell phone as I passed it in the kitchen.
By the time the kids rounded the corner again chasing me, a huge gorilla leaped out at them, beating his chest and lumbering toward them.
It was hysterical.
Miss C dropped to her knees, laughing. Lola froze in place, unsure of her next move, and began to scream. Jaz, who was carrying a vacuum attachment as a sword, immediately ran into my arms, screaming as well.
Meanwhile, Martin jumped around, waving his arms and grunting like a primate.
The girls quickly recovered from the surprise, and cautiously approached their Dad, assuming gorilla behavior themselves. After a few reassurances from me, Jaz pried himself loose from my legs, and carefully swung out his sword in front of him, protecting the both of us from the advances of the monkey crew.
It was so much fun! For the next hour or so, it was us against the gorilla. And while outside it was raining and cold, we were laughing and playing all the way up to the kids’ later-than-normal bedtime.
The gorilla made an appearance a few more times over the weekend, too, even sneaking up on an unsuspecting Ashley as she made a sandwich in the kitchen.
One of the recommendations on the Good Life poster is not to count the minutes, but count the laughs. To me, this means to focus on the quality of the time one spends together, to not focus on the clock or calendar so much.
Of course, I’ve still got my sights set on spring and summer, and the promise of sun and Vitamin D, grass, warm temperatures, humidity — yes, humidity.
But I’m also really, really trying to appreciate that this is all time for us to be together, and to use it well. It’s a good reminder to shift my perspective and think of the ways I want my kids to remember this time. Hopefully, the kids won’t notice that this house is a wreck, and their parents are stressed by the lack of order and routine.
Instead, I hope they will remember that their father took them out in the snow at every opportunity to shovel and build forts, and their mother let them rent every animated movie they ever wanted to see.
And that we spent evenings chasing a gorilla.
Rosy cheeks from helping her dad shovel the driveway. Six inches over ice. Niiiice.