On Twitter yesterday a couple of friends were delightedly welcoming the time change:
I think the whole Fall Back concept pretty much rocks.
Me too! I am silly excited about the earlier setting sun.
Really? I asked. I deplore fall back. I’m going into a depression over the earlier setting of the sun. Sunset at 4:30 sucks. Yes, strong language; but that’s how I feel. I hate it with a passionate loathing.
Even before I had kids I found that early sunsets were the aspect of living in New England that I really couldn’t adjust to. I’d braced for the cold and snow; but I wasn’t at all prepared for the sun to start setting at 4:30 when the time changed. And the days continue to get shorter and shorter until by the time the solstice rolls around it’s starting to get dark at 3:30. That’s just grim.
But being a parent makes it even worse. Making dinner after the sun sets means I can’t send the children out to play during the craziest most hectic part of the day. Instead they are whiny and underfoot. When the spring brought longer daylight I breathed a sigh of relief as suddenly the longer days meant freedom from complaints and laments and crochety housebound children constantly underfoot.
I am greet the annual fall back with dread, especially after last winter’s long icy grip when for several long months we were snowbound. With snowdrifts up to four or five feet, only the intrepid Bella dared to wander the yard and even she kept indoors most of the time because of the bitter cold. Already I feel the walls closing in on me. Sure this week the children have still been running about outside in their bare feet and jackets. But hats and gloves have been dug out of boxes and I can see the writing on the wall. Already several times my prompts of Why don’t you play outside? have been met with a plaintive, It’s too cold!
Already I’m feeling it. In the past week my feet have been cold, cold cold. I’ve had to pull out the wool socks and fleece slippers. I don’t look forward to months of shuffling about the house feeling sloppy in a baggy cardigan and long underwear. At least once a day I get irritably overheated and the socks have to come off. Then my feet get cold again and I have to hunt them down where they have disappeared under the tides of drifting toys and couch cushions.
The town playground is already closed for the season. I can see our outdoor options becoming fewer and fewer. In November there are some nice days. Maybe even a few in December. But January and February are coming when we will be stuck inside for weeks on end, too cold to run around and play, to do more than dash from the car to the house.
Oh I can hear some of you now poo-poohing and claiming that where you live it is colder and snowier and yet your kids play outside in the winter. yes, New England winters are milder than Minnesotan or Alaskan winters. What can I say, I’m a Texan and I find this land alien enough. More, my kids aren’t your kids and my little ones will no longer be playing outside for hours on end in the next few months. Perhaps when they are older things will be different. But for the tiny ones it is just too hard to have fun when the temperatures drop.
And so I am staring winter in the face and I feel like it’s defeat I’m looking at. I wish I could be all optimistic and wax rhapsodic about cozy wintertime snuggling. We don’t have a fireplace to snuggle in front of. We have to economize on heating oil and so the thermostat stays low and we bundle up. And now more than ever I’m looking around at the mess, the chaos of this too-small house with too much stuff. I want to declutter and organize, to make this into a cozy nest where we can hunker down all happy for the winter but right now I’m stretched thin just trying to keep up with the laundry and dishes and cooking and kid wrangling. I am trying to let go of that dream dream because I recognize that it isn’t realistic for this season in my life. But the chaos which I’ve been ignoring all summer so that we can go outside and play is starting to get me down once again.
I also sort of suspect that those who rhapsodize about Fall Back are morning larks and not night owls like me. While I might on occasion get up early, rising before the kids and enjoying a little quiet until everyone else is up, that’s the exception that proves the rule. Certainly this Sunday I didn’t have the quiet and the lack of rushing around to get out to church on time.
Instead, Anthony woke up with gas at 4. (I guess it would have been five before the time change.) After I’d nursed him till his little tummy was full, he was tired but unable to settle. My back hurt and the heater had come on and I was feeling overheated and Anthony wouldn’t settle down for me. So in desperation I asked Dom if he would take him and see if he could get him to settle. Poor Dom finally got Anthony to sleep but no sooner had he put him down but Sophie and Ben were up. Dom got Sophie back to her bed but Ben was up for the day. I slept in a very little bit but was soon up myself and as soon as I was out of bed I was well into the flurry of the day, making breakfast and finding clothes and with the extra task of bathing the kids who didn’t get baths on Saturday night because we received a last-minute dinner invite from Dom’s mother and sister. A joyful dinner and I don’t regret going but it did change our plans.
So all in all I wouldn’t say it was at all peaceful morning and the time change did not buy me any quiet space in my day. Perhaps if I was up early soaking in the glory of the day I might have felt differently? I suppose I envy those who welcome this change of seasons. I wish I found myself greeting it with a happy heart rather than regretting everything we didn’t do this summer and dreading the coming cold.