Thanks for helping us survive the cold

When my kids wake up in the morning, their first question to me is, “Do we have a snow day?”

Lately, they’ve been greeted with a “yes” so many times it is now the expectation.

Snow days are so exciting for kids. Oh, how I miss those days.

As a parent, they take on a different meaning. A snow day means paying for childcare or flipping a coin with your spouse to see who will be working from home that day (or using a vacation day to cover the absence). Is there any peanut butter and jelly left in this house to make lunch? How many days in a row have you been wearing those pajamas? When is the last time you opened your backpack? And, how long has this half-eaten apple been in there, fermenting?

All cooped-up, slap-happiness aside, it’s better to be safe than sorry. While the weather can be predicted, nobody can predict the exact extent of safety considerations. With recent temperatures colder than Antarctica, ice layers so heavy branches fell off trees, and blowing snow accumulations that even made streets in town difficult to traverse, nobody can argue that recent cancellations have not been warranted.

One day last week, I attempted to get out of the house to shake off some cabin fever. I almost fell three times going down our very short driveway. When I got to the end, I looked at the sidewalks, and neither direction was any better for as far as I could see.

Having fallen earlier in the season and still not quite healed from the experience, I wasn’t ready to chance it further. I went back in the house. It was the first time in a long time I felt defeated by the weather.

Snow days always remind me of driving to high school after getting my license in December. I drove a small, stick-shift pickup truck that spontaneously fishtailed itself for fun and was magnetized to snowbanks (at least I remember the problem being the truck itself, and not my lack of winter driving experience).

One morning, after sliding around a particularly icy curve on Cathro Road, my Uncle Dale, who just happened to be working on a logging operation nearby, appeared out of the woods with a couple of his crew to help push the truck back onto the road. He told my brother and me to go home. It was too dangerous to drive to school in those conditions.

Unfortunately, kids don’t get to make the call about staying home from school because of weather, so we continued on. Another mile up the road, the radio informed us that school was canceled. We turned around for home and slid back off the road a second time on the same icy curve.

I do not envy the position of the public school officials in their responsibility to call school off. I’ve seen parents bash the schools for not calling school off, when the day turned out to be fairly treacherous as the hours wore on. I’ve seen parents bash the schools for calling a day that turned out to be not bad at all. It’s a catch-22, sometimes.

As a parent, I am thankful schools take a safety-first approach and do the best they can to predict how incoming weather may impact both vehicle and walking travel. Over these past two weeks, we’ve seen businesses close, as well, because of unusually wild weather.

I also made the call to close our office a couple of times. Fortunately, the majority of our work can be done anywhere we have an internet connection. Would we have made it to the office? Perhaps, but sometimes the risk is not worth the attempt. It’s OK to err on the side of caution. Rescheduling a few appointments or missing a few things is better than risking an accident.

While snow days are mildly inconvenient, we’re all in this together, and our community is great at offering help and support.

Thank you to family members and childcare workers who come through in a pinch for working parents. Thank you to school administrators for keeping kids safe. Thank you to businesses that also close so that we don’t feel obligated to keep running errands in unsafe conditions, risking an accident on the way. Thank you to organizations like the Boys & Girls Club, Northern Lights Arena, and the library, that offer snow day programs for short adventures. And, last but not least, thank you to the crews that work around the clock to shovel sidewalks and plow and de-ice the roads during storms.

As Michigan residents, we know that, no matter what is happening now, a new season is never more than a few months away.

Mary Beth Stutzman’s “Inspiring A-Town” runs biweekly on Tuesdays. Follow Mary Beth on Twitter @mbstutz.