and now, for something completely different: participating Mommy

Among my greatest dislikes are being cold, wearing shoes that are too tight, and looking like an idiot.  Two days ago, I took on all of these turn-offs at once and did something I was pretty sure I was going to hate: I downhill skied for the very first time.

My husband has taken our 7 year old son, and this year our 5 year old as well, up on the mountain without me several times over the last three years. I was happy to see them go without me, really.  My parents didn’t know how to ski,  so I just never did it either, and it seemed way too late now to be taking it on. I mean, Natasha Richardson wasn’t doing giant slaloms or anything, and she DIED. Even if I wore a helmet, a compound fracture seemed eminently likely for a fraidy-lady like me. 

But I have been reflecting on the message this sends to my boys: they and Daddy go off and do cool athletic stuff; Mommy and baby Maggie stay home.  This is not something I want my kids growing up thinking is the way of the world.

“Tell me I’m going to love this,” I begged David. “Because I do not want to go.”

“Makin’ memories,” he said sagely. “No matter what happens, you’ll be makin’ memories.”

And so, bright and early on Sunday morning we left Maggie with my in-laws and drove to the ski resort at the top of their mountain. My heart pounded as David showed me how to strap on the vise-like boots. I was giddy as we took the 45 second chair lift to the top of the bunny slope. When we got to the top, the boys yelled “Bye Mom!” and flew down the bunny slope at top speed. Without poles. The adrenaline rush I got from watching that was probably enough thrill for the day, but now it was my turn.

“We’re going to work our way across the hill sideways,” David said. “Keep your toes pointed in. Nice and sl–“

I didn’t hear anything he said after that because now I was also flying down the hill, also at top speed.

My skis were in charge. My mind was in slo-mo. Oh my God, I thought. This is it. I’m going to lose a limb.

“Snowplow! SNOWPLOW!!” David was yelling behind me, and I knew that that would be a helpful suggestion, providing I knew what “snowplow” meant.

I was barreling toward the boys now, who were watching me with jaws agape, and I think I prayed a little bit, and then I was at the bottom and I came to a stop and found, to my surprise, that I was all in one piece, and that I had not fallen. Then I whooped and hollered like a Canadian ice dancer.

I mastered the bunny slope that day. Connor and I fell off the chair lift at one point but were no worse for the wear. And we’re going back this weekend. My God, I ENJOYED it. I am so proud of me.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

ck February 23, 2010 at 6:04 pm

That was great perspective. I'm often dragged out of my comfort zone for the sake of my kids, but I rarely press through it on my own. I never really gave any thought to the message that sends.

(Thank goodness there isn't any skiing in DC! This post totally would've pushed me into finding the nearest ski lift.)

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AH February 23, 2010 at 6:38 pm

I have a horrible fear of heights (the lady stuck on the stairs in the 2 story Gap…that's me). BUT…3 times in the last year, I shushed it to ride above the zoo in a chairlift so the giraffes had to look up, see St Louis from the arch, and ride the "super slide". I'm determined that my son won't inherit it!

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Mollie February 23, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Congrats! I spent the past week watching Olympic skiing events, which is thrilling/scary enough for me. The women's downhill? Like NASCAR without seatbelts.

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Anonymous February 24, 2010 at 3:03 am

Try cross country skiing. Great family sport, and cheaper than downhill. And usually less scary!

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jmo February 25, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Skiing seems to be a sport that non-athletes can get into. In my professional life skiing has replaced golf as the schmoozing sport and trust me most of these guys are not peak physical condition.
I'm so clumsy I can't get out of bed without bruising and I love to ski. I've been told I "fall well" too 🙂

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