I felt its beginnings over a week ago. In response, I bought fresh flowers. I diffused uplifting essential oils. I opened doors and windows to blow fresh air into the house. I tried anything to reduce its impact, but the February Funk still arrived.
This malaise affects me every year. Symptoms include irritability, sensitivity, and intense cravings for sustained sunlight and humidity. Side effects include sibling bickering, marital disharmony, and frequent miscommunication. It may also present as a growing resentment toward crockpot meals and 7-day weather forecasts with too many gray cloud icons. February Funk means I’ve had enough of winter.
My daughters display the signs, too. Tempers are short. Tears come readily. Mean comments fly like darts, piercing opponents with surprising accuracy. Negative self-talk chatters in their ears. Truth is, I’ve been hearing a lot of it in my own head, too. It sounds a lot like the teacher in Charlie Brown’s classroom, only meaner.
Sound familiar? I know I’m not the only sufferer.
Last week, family activities and events spread us thin right through the weekend. By Sunday afternoon, everyone grew grumbly. My husband and daughters left for the gym to burn off some energy. It was a little thing, but perfectly timed. Two hours later, one daughter sends a text.
“Is it a DIY dinner 2nite? I’m really hungry.” I’m grateful she recognizes “Do It Yourself” is a viable menu offering. They don’t know I’ve assembled a family favorite while they’ve been gone. I don’t make it often. It requires time, patience, and makes a mess. But they love it, and although it’s a little thing, I hope it brings some comfort.
I text back what is in the oven. “YAY!” she responds in all caps, followed by lines of smiley faces. It’s a little thing…adding all of these yellow circles with various happy expressions…but it makes me smile.
“I thought you’d like that,” I answer, encouraged by her reply.
“MmmHmm!” she answers, sending heart emoji in multiple colors.
A moment later, the phone vibrates again. “I luv u so much rite now. Not that I didn’t luv u b4.” More hearts, smiley faces, kissing lips, the giant X and O. My screen lights up with little icons of joy. I feel that delicious gush a mother feels when her children show their love.
Twenty minutes later, happiness follows them through the door. Their freshly-scrubbed faces shine. My daughters wrap me in warm, two-armed hugs–something I’ve missed lately. It’s another little thing that fills my heart. My husband says the house smells delicious. Everyone seems excited for dinner and happy to be home. I’m full with their joy. The February Funk slinks away, hopefully for good, but at least for now.
I feel gratitude. Each bit of effort increases everyone’s happiness, which drives away some of the long winter’s gloom. It reminds me again, it’s the little things in life. Little moments and little efforts make a family. A marriage. A life. Little things add up to big joy.