It’s January, in Montreal. Cold. Icy. Snowy.
My daughter was born at the end of last March, so we got to enjoy a warm and beautiful spring, summer and fall together before facing the challenge of winter. I’ve lived through many a Canadian winter, but having a baby adds a whole new dimension.
Things that make me wish I lived in a different, warmer part of the world:
M hates getting her snowsuit put on. She screams and struggles, every time. Then, invariably, as soon as we get out the door she is happy and excited to be outside. I’m waiting for her to connect the two in her little head… “hey, every time Mama puts this stupid suit on me, we get to go outside! Maybe it’s not so terrible after all.”
We live on the third floor. To get to our apartment, we need to go up one outdoor staircase and another indoor staircase. After 9 months of doing this with a stroller and baby on an almost daily basis, I have become a pro (and have the biceps to prove it). However, a coating of ice on the outside steps definitely adds a whole new challenge. I now go up and down pushing or pulling the stroller with only one arm while I hold onto the railing with the other hand, concentrating on not slipping and/or releasing the stroller from my grasp.
Gone are the beautiful summer days when we could go for long walks and stop in the park for a few hours. Now we go for a walk to get out or to get somewhere, but we don’t linger. I can’t let M out of the stroller to tickle her feet in the grass or to look at the ducks. I do miss the sun. I dream of beaches, and warm places where babies don’t need to wear snowsuits and hats and scarves. Places where my little one could crawl around barefoot. Places where it doesn’t take 15 minutes to get dressed every time you want to go outside.
Things that keep me from boarding the next plane headed south:
M doesn’t like to take naps anymore. The world is just way too exciting to miss out on even a minute of the day. Now that she is crawling and climbing up on things, she is busy exploring and doesn’t want to waste any time sleeping. But when it is cold outside, taking her for a walk in her stroller magically and immediately puts her to sleep. I guess her way of dealing with the cold air is just to shut it out. She looks so cozy bundled in blankets in her stroller that I’m almost jealous.
Our stroller is a hardcore outdoorsy stroller that you can jog with or attach to the back of a bike. You can even replace the wheels with skis to take baby cross-country skiing. We decided to purchase it mainly because it would allow us to continue cross-country skiing in the winter, even with a baby. The only way to beat the cold is to get out and active in it, and it’s easy to do so right in the city. Skiing has been my method of getting fresh air, exercise and vitamin D through the winter for as long as I can remember, and I am an addict. Skiing is what makes me look forward to winter. Without it, the short days and frigid air would get me depressed by January.
The only problem is that this winter has been far warmer than typical Montreal winters are. For the fifth year in a row, we spent a few days over New Years with friends at a cottage in the country, and for the first time in five years we weren’t able to go skiing even once because there wasn’t enough snow. `
We finally got our first real snowstorm during the second week of January… almost two months later than usual. I haven’t even gone skiing yet, but E took M last weekend to test the conditions. While they went for a father-daughter ski, I went to my favourite yoga studio to attend a class for the first time since I got pregnant. It was worth missing out on the first ski of the year. But I am looking forward to taking M for a ski someday soon.
Despite the cold weather, M and I are definitely not sitting around at home getting depressed. My daughter gets cabin fever as easily as I do. We both need to get out and about every day, or we get grumpy. Fortunately the problem is that there are too many fun activities to choose from to fill our schedule. Since all mothers in Quebec get one year of maternity leave and want to make the most of it, there are a multitude of activities offered for mums and babies. There are mama-baby dance classes, yoga classes, swimming classes, music classes, playgroups, etc, etc. I meet up with friends who are also on maternity leave at one of our homes on a regular basis. We visit M’s grandparents. M is also always eager to “help” me with grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning and cooking. We are certainly never bored. I think we’ll make it through the winter.
Maro Adjemian lives in Montreal, Canada with her Italian/Quebeçois husband and 9 month old daughter.