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These winter months can make a mom feel crazy. Oh sure, the kids look so angelic when you've got them all bundled up in their big puffy coats and hats and gloves and boots and, and, and... But really, another day of cold? Another day of wondering if they might be able to stand being outside for longer than 3 seconds? Oh my gosh! Another month or so of this weather. Someone, anyone, take me away. 

So, that's what I did. I told my husband about a week ago that I needed to get away. Yeah, yeah, the trip with the girlfriends to Kansas City was only 3 weeks in my rearview mirror, but when every day starts to melt into the next, it felt like it was an eternity ago. I had a plan – I was heading to the cabin for a weeknight of pure silence, my selection of TV shows, and sheer relaxation. 

My night into day alone was just as I had envisioned. I watched the entire season two of Girls, grilled a steak, leisurely drank coffee the following morning and caught up on all my magazines that had been stacking up for months. (Who knew all the fantastic recipes I could have made around Christmastime!) I was experiencing pure bliss.

And then my husband and the boys arrived. They were later than expected, so they had stopped to eat on the way.  Whew! There'd be no complaints about grilled cheese and soup this night. I was feeling pretty fresh from my mom time, so I enthusiastically listened to tales from their respective days and then we snuggled in to watch a movie. I had kick-started this weekend right and was now ready for family cabin time.

The next morning, my weather app told me it was -1 with a predicted high of 10 for the day. Groan. 

You see, the cabin is awesome in the summertime. Although, it is small (about the size of an over-sized 2 car garage), we have a huge screened-in porch that is half the size of the cabin that leads to a big sand beach and then the water. In the summer we can spend days on end not bumping into each other as everyone can find something to do. And even on nicer winter days, we often find ourselves outside with a fire burning on the beach. It's the perfect getaway.

Until you are trapped inside because going outside only means your nose gets frozen within a matter of seconds. Oh boy. What had I done? We were supposed to be here all weekend?

Were we really experiencing cabin fever in an actual cabin?

I tried to convince the little one to go out front and shoot his b-b gun, but he didn't want to because it's too hard to shoot with gloves on. I tried to get the older one to take a golf cart ride... no, that wasn’t going to happen either, because I insisted he'd need to wear a hat and scarf (apparently looks to a 13-year old are still very important even when there's no around.) So instead we sat in the cabin, playing Yahtzee, watching TV on the only 4 channels available, staring at our electronic devices, and complaining about our giant dog and her bad gas.

By Saturday afternoon, we were clearly getting sick of being no farther than 12 feet from  one another. The bickering and flippant answers to questions were getting as close together as we were. Good God, were we really experiencing cabin fever in an actual cabin?

I spent most of this winter feeling a bit smug that we hadn't had much cabin fever this year. That's the nice thing about kids getting older. They have things to do, places to go, and don't mind spending time doing their own thing. It's so much different from when they were little and they'd just stare at you wondering what you'd do next. And while they can read to themselves or suggest we play a game or just hang out with out needing to be entertained, getting cooped up in the cabin was a real test of the strength of family.

We decided to go to town to have dinner and get out for a bit. We talked and laughed over our meal, grabbed a couple RedBox movies and then headed back. I was confident that getting out would cure us of our stir craziness for at least the evening and hopefully into the next day. Upon returning to the cabin, we all resumed our positions we had essentially held for the previous 24 hours, and for some reason this rubbed me the wrong way.

The kids wanted to start with one movie, and I didn't. And I said so in a super snotty mom-kind of way. What on earth was my problem? Why was I picking apart things that didn't matter? Why did I care if we watched one movie over the other? Ugh, this cabin fever was worse than I thought, and I needed to battle it internally and not wear it all over my sleeve. I relented and apologized for my less than stellar mom behavior. The kids were cool with it, and I think my husband was silently thinking I needed a straight jacket. But all was well as we laughed at Will Ferrell and enjoyed what I am absolutely positive was a completely inappropriate movie for an almost 8-year old. (Oh, the things you do as a parent.)   

Sunday morning finally rolled around, and I busied myself with eggs and bacon while the kids re-watched the movie from the night before and my husband used up data reading all of his newspapers on his iPad. Yes, things had returned to normal--probably because we were all acutely aware that we were heading home shortly back to our own individual spaces.  

With the weekend finally over, as I drove home, I cursed myself for letting the weather and circumstances get the best of me. And then I made myself a promise--from here on out, if it is going to be less than 15 degrees, the cabin will not be the family cure for cabin fever.

Mollie Protzman


Mollie is an Omaha native and a mom of two boys ages 13 and 8. She's been married for 20 years and spent most of those first 10 years living in various cities around the country. Before kids, she was in marketing communications and public relations and then stayed home with her boys for 11 years while doing freelance writing on the side. The day after her youngest one went to kindergarten, she just about went berserk with the quiet in the house and nothing constructiv ...

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