It Takes a Village to Beat a Vortex (Polar Vortex That Is!)

by Kate Fineske on January 14, 2014 · 4 comments


Honestly, I thought I had (what I call) “the epidemic” beat.

As a parent, I have been (fairly) guilt-free for some time now.

That’s not to say I don’t combat the occasional relapse after a few long, somewhat unbalanced, parenting-work-life days. However, those moments have lately only lasted a few hours (if that). Suffice to say, I haven’t felt the true, multiplying impact of day-after-day guilt in a long time.

That is until the unexpected recently hit.

I always forget the unexpected wildcard… the one that reminds me not-so-subtly:

“Kate, you CANNOT plan for everything.”

Put into perspective, it could have been worse. There were no illnesses, no life-threatening situations, not even an unforeseen financial woe (which is an easy culprit over the holidays). No, this unexpected wildcard was merely a severe case of cabin fever caused by mother-nature herself in the form of a “Polar Vortex”.

In short:

My kids and I had 2-blissful-weeks off work and school for the holidays…
We were ALL fully rested and ready to jump back into our everyday lives…
Only to be met by 5 more days (an entire week!) of house arrest caused by…

Dum-dum-duuuum… (sung to the tune of a villain’s entrance)

2 feet of snow, sub zero temperatures and week-long school cancellations.

No illnesses. No criminal activities. Only ice and snow.

And (children’s) boredom…
Mixed with my own stress of returning to work after a long vacation.
Plus, wa-aa-y too much electronic device time.

In addition to the fact that there were mountains of snow my kids could look at BUT not play in (due to the sub-zero temperatures)

Oh, and (most importantly) I was back to work with: NO CHILDCARE*

*unless you count my 11-year-old

Have I drawn a complete picture yet?
Guilt was sure to find it’s way through my well-built walls.

Ultimately—it’s over now. I survived. I’ve come out (beaten but alive) on the other end. And here is what I’ve learned:

Do not take for granted the support that I do have.

  • A loving family that is always willing to help
  • Friends and a husband who listen and offer encouragement
  • The amazing childcare options I have access to (that many others don’t) on those weeks and days when we’re not face-to-face with a Polar Vortex

The truth is, until this past week I thought I was combating this epidemic of guilt all myself. Turns out, I have an ally. Wait! That’s not completely true, I have many allies—in the form of the networks of support I have managed to build. I truly have my own village of support.

I will never, ever be as naive to say I’ve single-handedly beat guilt, because I believe my greatest defense to this epidemic of guilt is: the support of others.

Leave a Comment: What supportive communities have you built for yourself and your family? How do they help you fight against the epidemic of guilt? And seriously… what did you do during the Polar Vortex?


Did you know…

The NAMC provides Mothers’ Center group members with access to Group Discussion Guides meant to encourage reflection and conversation. The previous post was inspired by our discussion guide: Mindful Parenting. To download this guide and others, visit the members only section of the NAMC website. Not a member? Learn more about the Mothers’ Center and it’s unique culture by downloading our New Group Start-up Guide here!

I am a staff member of the National Association of Mothers' Centers and a longtime member of the Mothers' Center of Greater Toledo in Ohio. My husband and I are busy raising 3 children ages 4-11. I have a professional background as a graphic designer in the creative and education industry. Since 2005, I have been using my professional skills by actively volunteering with the Mothers' Center of Greater Toledo in various leadership positions.
Kate Fineske
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Torri D. January 14, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Kate, as always you have managed to articulate the issues so many of us mothers confront. I lucked out that I only ended up working away from the home one day out of the week due to the weather. Of course it was the first day that the kids could actually go do something. I heard many a complaint as I headed out to meetings, also leaving the 3 kids in the hands of my not so happy 12 year old. Although I am getting more comfortable being a part-time working Mom, I still am not totally comfortable with the situation. You are right when when you said that the unexpected wildcard can throw things array. I am very lucky that I have great parents and in-laws who help out a lot. Without their support we could never make things work. It is nice to hear about other mother’s journeys through parenthood. Keep the blog coming!


Kate Fineske January 15, 2014 at 9:04 am

Thanks for the response and for sharing your own story too! If there is one thing that keeps me sane it is knowing that I am not alone… have support and the knowledge that others mother (just like you) go through similar struggles. I’m glad you managed to “come out the other end of the Polar Vortex” too! :)


Christine January 18, 2014 at 9:45 am

Just as the polar vortex attacked so many of us, there is another force that attacks us moms on a regular basis. That compelling force is no other than ourselves. We can often be our own worst enemies, setting standards that are too stringent, holding expectations that are too high to reach and discovering that our plans for the day’s (or week’s) schedule have gone awry. Indeed, at those moments, it is the village of motherhood that can be our salvation. Knowing that we have “backup” in the form of childcare, a shoulder to cry on or an attentive listener can make the difference between feeling warmth back in our hearts or being left out in the cold. Kate, your witty and relevant post reminds us as moms to not be so harsh on ourselves and to value the people in our lives who help us weather the storm.


Kate Fineske January 19, 2014 at 11:18 am

Thank you for your response Christine. You are so on the nose! We ARE oftentimes our own worst enemy. With out the support of others, it can be so hard to get out of a “guilty funk.” I am happy to share my experiences and struggles here on Mothers Central if it helps even just one other mother feel as though she is not alone.


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