I’ve lived in New England for a decade now, and I still refuse to embrace snow. Snow, and its evil cousin ice, are not my friends. I do not enjoy the breathtaking vistas of white just outside my home office’s window. I do not revel in being forced to remain indoors with coffee and a book because all my plans have been dashed by a blizzard.
I do find how the plow on my husband’s Dodge Ram clears the driveway in a single sweep pretty kick ass. That’s about it.
You would think a writer who never has enough time to write for herself, scrams 15 minutes of reading in before going to sleep each night and only that because her husband keeps the light on reading his own book, relies increasingly on audiobooks to satisfy her love of literature, and is woefully behind on her Netflix queue would love snow. Snow days are the ultimate in bonus time. I plan a full day of errands and assignments before bed. I wake up and a blanket of white has rendered the roads impassable and most local businesses, perhaps even my office, closed. There is literally nothing I can do for a minimum of 8 hours. There is a minimum of 8 hours to do everything I want to do.
Except I’m a long distance Mom, it’s the holidays, winter break, my son’s birthday, I just miss my kid, I have told him I will see him that Saturday, and now, thanks to a downfall of fluffy ice filigree, I can’t.
Well, okay, I can. I drive a 2014 Toyota Camry LE. A Camry will motor through all but Buffalo snow, and possibly even that. I haven’t tested Baby Blue in a Western New York winter. The Camry is also one of the safest cars on the market. That’s why I drive one. I know I can, even as a former cervical spine patient with 6 titanium bolts in the back of my neck, take most impacts with nary a jostle. I was hit at 60 miles an hour in my ’07 Camry LE. The trunk and rear quarter panels needed to be replaced. I didn’t even know I’d been hit.
But do I really want to risk driving in bad weather? Which is more important: keeping my promise to my son even if it means potentially getting into an accident because not everyone on the Merritt Parkway is driving a Toyota, or letting him down and staying safe? When is the right time to call it on weekend plans with my son? What do I do if I cancel and all of the dire predictions turn out to be nothing more than media frenzy instead of meteorology?
I really hate snow, and winter weather in general, and the imprecise science of meteorology. I’m sitting here, 2 weeks before I promised my son I would see him again, watching the weather and hoping it doesn’t snow. I’ve actually chanted mantras in my car of “Snow go away” and blown steam on my windowpane, trying to blow entire weather systems away. I’ll do anything, including not canceling plans until the last minute, to avoid breaking a promise to or plans with my son. It’s bad enough I’m not there every day. I don’t want to start not being there when I say I will be.
Then I think about what will happen if I get into an accident. Not only will I not see my son and have to break plans with him anyway, but I will also potentially injure myself and cost the Camry, at the very least, a visit to the nearest body shop. Do I really want that? Does that help my kid?
How will my son feel if I am hurt driving to see him?
Maybe I’ve just seen too many perfectly avoidable accidents in the last 10 years. I always err, when travel with Old Man Winter is concerned, on the side of caution. When in doubt, I cancel. I make the decision to do so based on the weather forecast as of 3 days before I am to see him. I let my son know immediately I won’t be there. If the weather forecast turns out to be wrong, I can always drive down to see him. I find this better than getting his hopes up and then canceling the day I’m supposed to see him.
Obviously, it’s a bit different if you’re traveling by plane, or if your child is traveling by plane to see you. Then you do need to kinda wait and see what happens on the actual day. Still, you can prepare your kids for a potential weather-induced flight cancellation or delay by telling them as soon as you know that if it snows, you might not see them as planned. You can explain that planes are not allowed to take off or land in certain kinds of weather. You can prepare your child for a change of plans in advance.
You can also choose times when you won’t travel, and explain to your child why. My son is well aware that I do not make plans to see him during January and February because of the unpredictable nature of New England weather. I always make plans to be in New Jersey in March, my son’s birthday month. I avoid setting exact dates in case we get a last minute deluge of cold white flakes. I leave the weekend before and the weekend after Christmas free in case I get snowed out for Santa.
Above all, I stay safe. As important as it is to me to keep my word to my son, and be there when I say I will be, it is more important that I am there, period. If I get injured, or if my car is taken out of commission, I will miss a lot more than a single weekend.
So will you, if you try to drive on snow and ice, or fly out of or into a blizzard. Don’t do it. In the long term, over the course of your child’s entire lifetime, a missed Christmas, a delayed birthday, or even a few last minute cancellations of plans will be forgotten. All of the times you were there will be remembered. If you get into an accident, you won’t be.
Take care of yourself, stay safe, and if the weather is truly awful, see your child another time.
Take it from the gal who once drove on 6 inches of snow through Worcester, Massachusetts one March.
Yes, in a Camry.