On the whole, I consider myself to be pretty brave.
I’ve worked night shift in an inner-city hospital. I’ve had my wisdom teeth removed, two C Sections and have cleaned up kid vomit with nary a gag.
I’ve survived the grocery store on the day before Thanksgiving 10 years running (not for the faint of heart, I assure you). I eat sushi. For God’s sake, I paid good money to swim in a stinking lake with goose poop (read about THAT here).
I am no coward, people.
But, now, at the top of this snow packed mountain, I’m panicking a bit. OK. A lot. Who am I kidding? I’m having a Class A freak out of gargantuan proportion.
I am at a local ski resort to go skiing with my children, ages 9 and 12. They have spent the better portion of the last five weeks learning how to ski while I have spent the better portion of the last 20 years looking for reasons to avoid getting on skis. But, as promised, for their final week of lessons, Mommy has skis on and is now standing at the top of a precipitously high mountain. Okay, it’s a beginner slope but it’s really steep.
My kids are ogling the hill with big, excited eyes. Me? My first thought was that I’m glad my laundry is up to date because that’s one less thing my husband will have to deal with while I’m laid up with my broken ankle. Honestly. I really thought that.
As I stand here, pondering the hill and producing sweat that would rival the Hoover Dam, I hear myself saying, “You guys go ahead. I’ll catch you on the next run.” And off they go. Just like that, I’m waving to the back of their heads (er, helmets….safety first!). They left their mother behind without a second thought. Really? Ser-iously?
While waiting for them to come back (and at the same time attempting to look purposeful standing on skis that are not moving), I realize that the feelings I am having go deeper than the panic of incapacitating myself to the point of losing control of my household (Let’s face it, people: when the Captain is down, underwear drawers suffer). No, it goes deeper: my kids, in this moment, are braver than I am. They are able to approach this mountain with wild abandon while I stand here fretting about broken ankles, hand warmers (did I bring enough?), have we saved enough for college (fingers crossed!) and whether the hot chocolate I packed is still hot. We raise our kids to leave us and mine just took another step out the door by hurtling down a snow-packed mountain.
Sigh. Tears starting to form…
Further, the realization that my children will someday leave me hits hard on the top of this white mountain. They are going to LEAVE. As in, I will no longer be able to micromanage their every move on a day to day basis. I will have to, gulp, LET GO and let them find their way. I will have to let them carry cell phones. Eat food that I consider to be choking hazzards. Learn to drive. Stay up past 8 p.m. Live away at college. I’m probably going to have to start having less of an opinion on their actions. Huh. Interesting. I’m going to have to let them speed off ahead of me and hope for the best.
Double sigh. Tears actually starting to fall….Ahem.
Suck it up, cupcake. Put your big girl Hanes on and get your butt down that mountain. Let’s show those kids who wears the brave in this family (Sorry, hubby, but I win on this one…). Let’s show these kids that, as their mother, you will always be behind them, even if it means embarrassing yourself on skis in front of God and everyone on this mountain.
I regain my composure, pull my goggles down and start my descent. I’m gaining speed, trying to catch up yet maintain tight control on my pizza wedge technique (“Save room for the pepperoni, Mommy!”). I’m wedging, I’m skiing, I am speeding, I am flying out of control, I am screaming, I am yelling expletives (parenting fail), I am sliding backwards, face down, to the base of the hill and to the feet of my children.
My friend, who witnessed the epic fall, kindly tells me, “Ha! You just threw a yard sale!” (For those not in the know, a “yard sale” is when you throw every bit of gear you own all over the mountain. Yep, I totally had a yard sale all over the mountain. An “Everything Must GO Sale”).
When my son says to me, “That was the best fall I’ve ever seen, Mommy!”, I consider it a victory of sorts. I realize that I made it to the bottom of that hill, slightly bruised (both my ego and my right wrist), but okay. I stand up, collect all of my ski gear with as much dignity as possible and head for the chair lift. I hold my head high when my 9 year old tells the chair lift operator, “She has no idea what she’s doing, will you make sure she doesn’t fall off?” And, when we get to the top, and as I watch them go down again, I am proud that I’m raising kids who don’t look back and that, because of my fall, I now have an excuse to go inside.
If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the Summit lodge, drinking hot cocoa laced with Pinnacle vodka pretending that my kids will never grow up.
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