My daughter is home sick today, and the water in my building has been turned off for repairs. I think I’m coming down with what she’s got, but more importantly I’m exhibiting symptoms of something much longer-lasting: a serious case of the Februarys. You might recognize the symptoms: a creeping cloudiness across your emotional canvas, increased appetite, decreased activity, insatiable desire to sleep. I think I feel this way every February, when spring, like a late-running pregnancy, begins to feel like a fairy tale. Or a sham.
I’m sure the revolving door of illnesses coming through all winter isn’t helping matters. I’ve lost track of how many rounds of cold and stomach viruses we’ve collectively stumbled through. My husband has been blaming preschool, but I remember last year being very similar to this one. We didn’t have children in school then, and blamed it on the stress of moving cross-country. Now I’m suspecting a different culprit. February.
What was February like for my ancestors, who were pioneers before electricity? They likely slept more, put on a few more pounds for warmth, and rested their bodies before the demanding stretch from springtime until harvest. I have similar impulses now, but our expectations as a society demand top production all year long. What if my evolving biology hasn’t kept up with the internet and the fading boundaries on our work times, on our availability to others? What if I need a little hibernation for my body and soul, so that when spring does come (I’ll suspend my disbelief here), I’m renewed to produce something with more depth?
Someone once told me that winter drives the roots deep. I hold that thought close these days as I gaze at trees with frail empty arms, holding birds who have not forgotten their songs. Between the cold and the darkness, I’ve felt my own resources dwindle. I generally don’t seek connection with people from my past, but I’ve reached out to a couple people who have been on my mind. Joyful reunions followed, and they’ve returned to my life, encouraging me and my work. I can’t imagine reaching out the same way in June. My outsides may look frail and empty, but something mystical goes on below, unseen to observing eyes.
February has its place in the calendar, and it has its place in my life cycle–whether I like it or not. I’m still droopy and dreary more often than usual, but I grant this time and this experience legitimacy. It matters. It belongs. The cold, the dark, the reaching out for resources when mine dwindle. The rest, even the illness. My immune system grows stronger with each recovery, and my spirit does the same.
Cross-posted on NYC Moms Blog.