Family / Kids / Parenting

On convenience, winter, and children

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PHOTO CREDIT: ROB GRAY

Winter is… inconvenient. Or, at least, that’s one word for it.

It is inconvenient to stand, frozen (no pun intended) at your car door, as you try to figure out precisely how to access your car keys, which are deep inside your coat pocket, with your clumsy, mittened hands. The pileup of boots at the front door is inconvenient, as are the puddles of melted snow left by children who insist on walking through the house in their boots because, “it’s too hard to take them off.”

And it is.

It is hard to take them off, along with your jacket and your snow pants, and your mittens (and it is inconvenient to find mittens in the first place, especially right before school), and hang them all up again, only to take them out again twenty minutes later.

Going anywhere in the winter is inconvenient. I was reminded of that when, last night, Rachel and I brought up the winter tires from their storage spot in the basement, a task that involves rolling each tire across the basement floor and carrying it up a flight of stairs, and then loading the lot of them into the car, so that they can be ready to take into the tire place before 7:30 AM. That’s what Rachel did this morning. The tire shuttle drove her back home and then returned later on in the afternoon to pick me up so that I could bring the car home and begin the reverse process of storing the summer tires back in the basement.

So fun.

As I was hauling tires upstairs last night, it occurred to me that maybe one day I would no longer be able to do this. I mean, those things are heavy — I’m guessing a good 50 pounds each what with the metal rims and all. I’m in pretty good shape, but won’t there come a point in my life, say 15 or 20 years from now, when maybe hauling 200 pounds of tires up and down the stairs twice a year will be beyond my reach?

It was a slightly sobering thought. I turn 42 in less than a week and I can do 40 push-ups without stopping, but I also feel like going to sleep every night by nine and most days at least one part of my body aches. Random injuries are becoming, well, less random. And yet, we are going to need winter tires for the foreseeable future — until Rachel and I are both too decrepit to drive. And how will we manage that?

And then it occurred to me: the boys! Those two, relatively small, sleeping bodies upstairs! By the time I can no longer carry tires up and down flights of stairs, those kids will be great hulking young men! I have no idea if they will live anywhere near me by the time I will require their services, but if they do I will be making them do the heavy lifting. And by then, assuming I do some good work in the intervening years, they will cooperate and not say things like, “Why do I have to do all the work around here?” They will cheerfully heft tire over each shoulder and say, “Where you want them, Mom?” They will carry the tires out to the car, dressed in only T-shirts. And then they will drive the tires directly to the tire place themselves and I will make them dinner. And they will do the dishes.

I never understood until last night what people mean when they say that they want children so that they will have somebody to look after them in their old age. I always imagined that I would look after myself just fine in my old age, kids or not. And I certainly never had children as some kind of future insurance policy.

But I have to admit, it was a nice thought: my sons, fully grown, hauling tires for their good old moms. It made me feel slightly warmer, and that’s good thing, because it’s cold out there.

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9 Comments

  1. In the United States of America, we just keep our tires on our cars. It’s easier than keeping them in the basement. Just a helpful hint from your neighbor to the south.

  2. I hope they don’t … tire … of taking care of you.

  3. Pingback: Mama Non Grata » Blog Archive In which I contemplate winter tires and my own mortality at VillageQ » Mama Non Grata

  4. 1) 40 push-ups? What?! (Bows in awe.)

    2) At least ten times a “winter” (“winter” because I live in California, after all), I thank fate for placing me here and not some snowy place. Having done time in upstate New York as a non-parent, I can only imagine what it’s like to shuttle kids through that stuff.

    3) Once when T and I heard a booming knock at the door in the middle of the night, I thought, “I hate being the biggest person in the house” (at 5’6″, that’s not saying much). Then I thought, “Someday I WON’T be the biggest person in the house” (both boys are off-the-charts tall for their ages). Then I wondered if it would be okay/fair, someday, to send, say, a freakishly tall 13-year-old to the door in the wee hours of the morning, to see who is knocking? Then I felt guilty for even thinking of sacrificing my future son. Then I went to see who was knocking on the door. It was a Sherrif. He had been driving by and noticed that we’d left our garage door wide open.

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