Saturday, fresh snow, 2pm at our local ski hill. I sat in the lodge, in a rocking chair by the fire with my baby (who is suddenly not a baby at all) asleep in my arms while my friends and family skied. There was a time, not very long ago, when I would have shrugged off someone if they told me that’d be me. No way, I would have said, I’ll be up on the hill! And there I was, smiling at my younger self thinking, I’m pretty damn happy to be a Lodge Mama.
I grew up skiing. I fell in love with a man whose soul soars into snow. We’ve skied together a lot in the last 15 years and, as we slid fast over mountains, life tumbled right along with us, creating detours and boundaries. We went to college, got real jobs (with real schedules), bought a house, adopted pets.
We had children.
A little over a year ago I wrote about my struggle with my husband’s super foxy and needful passion to ski. I reread that piece today and crisply remembered my emotional swings surrounding winter storms. I realized that we haven’t had any impassioned disagreements about snow this year. Not one. Huh. Wow.
We had two kids in less than two years and we both swam through that life-altering, blissful, depleting, empowering, crazy soup trying like hell to be our best parenting selves while simultaneously choosing the pieces of our pre-parent selves we’d like to nourish.
It’s complicated and wild, uncharted territory. There aren’t maps or instructions or even previous experiences that we can call on. Parenthood is its own journey, unique to the set of sweaty, determined individuals who choose that path. We sort it out as we go, bump along knowing nothing, learning everything. Or at least learning enough to get to the next phase of knowing nothing.
I’ve never felt more humble, raw and honest in all my life.
The last few years we have been settling into our new, more complicated selves. Andy’s virtual storm chase and my subsequent frustration were pieces of it. And now. Now we have a different, wonderful relationship with snow and skiing.
Last weekend Andy and I spent the morning on the ski hill teaching Ruby how to make a pizza with her skis, Margot rode the famously aggressive rope tow all by herself for the first time. She grabbed on and squealed Mama! Daddy! Look! as I grabbed onto that rope and put one hand in front of the other, pulling my body — the one that pushed that strong kid into the world four years ago — up to her.
After a tiring and triumphant few hours, Andy headed up for a real run. The girls and I settled onto the lodge deck for hot cocoa and snacks. I thought about all those badass skiing years as I opened containers of cut apples and carrots. I hoisted Ruby on my back and rocked her to sleep while Margot and I talked in detail about her rope tow conquer. Andy came to check in, Ruby was still asleep. I smiled big and he Margot headed back up to the top. That’s when I found myself by the fire with a sleeping baby across my lap, so content to be that mama. The one who spent her ski day on the bottom half of the mountain. Teaching, carrying, holding, schlepping, feeding, rocking, documenting, encouraging. A different kind of badass.