There are few things more depressing than February in England. It may be the shortest month of the year, but the endless days of gray just seem to drag on forever. The cold seems to crawl under your skin and take up residence there, and the snow that I thought was exciting in January is now just plain annoying. Add to that the viruses we've all been fighting off, which have left us housebound for days at a time, and I'm officially (beyond) ready for spring. Every year about this time, I complain to The Other Half, "Next year, we're getting out of England for some winter sun." I'm thinking of a beach somewhere in the Canary Islands....
But since that longed-for beach is still in my dreams this year, I've been doing my best to bring a little comfort to us here at home, which means lots of cooking and baking. I've made rice pudding and oatmeal raisin cookies, the obligatory pancakes for Pancake Day, warming spiced soups and hearty chili and cornbread. This weekend, I have plans for a sticky syrup sponge pudding with custard and maybe a bread and butter pudding. I'll probably have to be rolled out of the house after I'm finished, but at least the walking I'll be doing when I resume my daily commute in a couple of weeks should help shed any extra pounds (and guilt) I may pack on.
And it's that inevitable return to work that has me a little extra depressed this February. These past 10+ months at home have been such a blessing, and in many ways I don't want it to end. But another part of me is looking forward to using that part of my brain again, and of course that makes me feel guilty as well, even though I know it shouldn't. I remind myself that, beyond the fact that, financially, I don't have a choice about going back to work (so far, none of my lottery tickets has yielded a windfall), by going out and doing something that I enjoy and that makes me feel confident about myself (most days) I am actually setting a good example for my girls. Still, it's hard to keep that in mind when my four-year-old is literally crying for me to stay home. I suppose this is the plight of every working mother. But recognizing that I am not the only one who has had to go through these emotions does not make them seem any less important.
Next week is Half Term, and we have several fun things planned to beat the February blues and make the most of our time together before I do resume the daily grind and life gets even more hectic. And I remind myself that, once back at work, there are only four weeks until the Easter holiday. Let the countdown begin.