January can be a pretty rubbish time of year. The high of Christmas has been dropped-off, lemming-style. Spring taunts us with the odd glimpse of snowdrop but we know it is weeks and weeks and weeks away. Up here, at least, you are almost guaranteed snow. And it doesn't just melt away. It crunches, it slips, it compacts. It changes from winter wonderland, sledges and snowballs to a health-and-safety nightmare. And there are 31 days of this bemoaned month. Oh those l-o-n-g days.
And yet this year, I can't help but feel we've been let of lightly. We almost got to the middle of the month without snow, and had even got through the first half of winter without it too. When the snow did hit, we had two strong bouts of it, about a week apart. And just when everyone was saying they'd had enough, a warm front threw a rainstorm over us as it travelled past, and the next morning the snow was almost gone. There were little full-stops of it here and there, where it hadn't noticed that the sentence had stopped speaking. And someone had run an italic pen of snow along the north-pointing, shaded walls on all the hills.
And today I woke with the winter blues. With the not-good-enough, can't-get-my-head-around-it blues. Then I got to thinking. Not always a good thing, but today it worked. You see, I have been spending a lot of time waiting for better days. I have been spending an embarrassing amount of time starting thoughts with the phrase "when we win the lottery..." or "when the boys are at nursery and school..." Then all of a sudden I realised how much good life, how much great life, can be missed while waiting for the better life. Small boys playing nonsense games and discovering the concept of a joke. Boys chasing and questioning, playing and imagining. Big boys discovering who they are and what they want to be. Husbands doing their best and not being told that it is good enough. Neighbour kittens tiptoe-ing in the snow. Rivers running tumultuously with the thaw. Friends noticing my croaky throat and showing genuine care for me.
And it's not only the simple joys that may pass me by. There are so many parts of the 'better' that can be brought into the now with a little creative thinking. The last two days, for the first time in our two years in this house, I have been decorating. We never won the lottery, so the decorators were never paid for. The crumbly walls were never re-plastered. But I have learnt the joy and the satisfaction of a house that humbly shows off the work I have done. The good-enough job. The polyfiller that I waited to dry and sanded down instead of the anonymous, characterless perfection of a stranger's freshly plastered wall. I am building a bit of the better, and making a good life for now.
And that is enough paragraphs starting with 'and', thoughts on today being yesterday's tomorrow, and blue thoughts being back-lit. My good enough life does not sit here at the computer. It is upstairs with a boy watching telly when he deserves a story, a floor wanting the quick sweep of a mop, and the to-do list that is waiting to cheer me up with all the ticks I can draw and the new tasks I can write, if only I could find the darned thing under the mess of a house that my parents have only just left. Time to turn off the computer and stir a little happiness into my cup of blue.