Victoria White: Goodbye to the best winter of my life!
"I think this winter is going to kill me," I tell my friend.
It's meant to be spring this week but it's freezing and the flowers seem half-scared to come up.
A cold has taken up permanent residence in my head and I feel like I'm 100-years-old.
I can't get up anymore in the dark. I can't make four lunches.
I can't drive to the supermarket in winter traffic and I can't lug the bags and boxes in through the cold.
I can't drive through endless hours of darkness to get children to icy football pitches and miserable hikes with the scouts.
I'm thinking of running away.
I'll shut the door and get the Aircoach out to Dublin Airport and hop on the first plane somewhere bright and warm. I'll leave a note on the kitchen table explaining that I did it to save my life, not to mention theirs.
Or at least their mental health, because they won't have to listen to me roaring and screaming at them to put on their hat and gloves and cycling helmets for fear of the ice.
I'll come back in time for Paddy's Day looking fit and tanned and resume my slavery as Mammy-in-Chief to the Ryan Four.
"Would you ever shut up?" interrupts my friend. "This is the best winter of your life."
"What age is your eldest? Sixteen? This is the last winter you'll be able to count on him being home with you. When he goes, the family will be broken up and the rest of the kids will follow quickly."
I hadn't really thought this through before. I was just focused on getting as far as March without committing murder.
"You're going to be devastated when your kids leave home. You love being with them but you don't realise it," she added.
Ah hold on now, I'm thinking. When I have no kids at home I won't be scrubbing and cooking.
But my friend hasn't finished: "You don't realise how good you have it. At least there's noise in the house. You'll know all about it when the house is silent."
"Silent." The word stopped me in my tracks. No children coming in, one by one, with their various daily tales of woe. No fight over who's going to lay the table. No laughter over somebody's stupid joke.
Nothing will be the same once this Spring takes hold. Three of the kids will be out 'til all hours enjoying the freedom which the long days bring.
I'll be at home drinking coffee and listening to the radio.
Next winter I may draw the curtains and light the stove, but my eldest may not come home.
He will have started to live his own life. I hate to admit it, but I think my friend is right. There is only one way to live a happy life and that's to live in the moment. The challenge this year can't be getting to Paddy's Day, it has to be enjoying February.
Making memories to get me through all those winters in my silent house.