A little skiing and some vicarious motherhood
April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Each time I see my best girlfriends with their kids, I’m freshly amazed.
We’ve been through a lot over the years ” college graduations, 30th birthday parties, weddings, divorces and labor pains.
Not necessarily in that order.
Even though some were painful at the time, our life experiences have generated more laughs than tears. Especially when it’s just the girls.
Culture Club is now required for any road trip.
Today, my girlfriends are graced with responsibility no woman truly comprehends until she joins the special sisterhood. I think we all know how to join.
Paying dues is the hard part.
True motherhood calls for patience I hope I possess but neurotically question when I’m within earshot of a screaming baby or tantrum-throwing toddler. Motherhood is truly amazing. It takes some kind of magical maternal power to rally an entire family to bath, dress and be out the door in one half-hour.
I can’t even do that all by my slothlike lonesome.
Great moms like my girlfriends also know how to sooth, motivate, scold and teach. Often in a matter of seconds, all at the same time. They can change their tone to fit the situation. And make counting to three the scariest thing a kid has ever heard.
As the single one out of all my married-with-children friends, I’ve been told they sometimes live vicariously through me. Running off to float on the Colorado River on a lazy summer afternoon or ski on a powder day aren’t always options when you have a couple kids. Sleeping until 10 a.m. on weekends, grabbing a cocktail during Happy Hour and watching racy reality TV (they’re not missing much) are also commodities once the stork drops off that bouncing bundle of joy.
Oh, if it were that easy.
But the thing my girlfriends don’t know is I live vicariously through them. Having little ones run to them with happy faces when they walk in the door. Being committed to marriages and not always taking the easy way out. Taking the role of matriarch in their families as seriously as Mother Theresa. Those are all values I respect and a few of the reasons I love these women like sisters.
I was reminded of what makes these women so strong hosting my college roommate Lynne and her family for a long weekend skiing in the Rocky Mountains. She juggles everyday life that includes anything from a case of the flu to all-day baseball games, raising her boys and making sure they can always come to her, in the good times or bad.
I saw what truly makes her a great mother at the end of the day Sunday skiing at Sunlight. Her knee was starting to bother her, so she sat out for the last run, Ute. Her boy, ages 7 and 9, wanted to go to the top of the mountain, so Lynne’s husband and I took them up the lift. After a quick photo shoot with Sopris in the background, we headed toward Ute. Colin, the younger of the brothers, picked up snowboarding fast and was eager to head down to the bottom.
About 10 minutes in, we hit a flat patch ” like peanut butter to a beginning snowboarder ” and the board had to come off for a quick little hike to a spot with elevation.
“You gotta keep up your speed, buddy,” I told Colin, wondering if I were teaching him anything he didn’t already know. “Especially on this next spot.”
The run was taking longer than the adults had anticipated. I kept looking back for Colin’s dad and brother, but they weren’t making very much progress. I wondered what Lynne would do, how she would motivate her youngest son to keep up the good work knowing how tired he was getting.
Another flat spot and frustration began to set in.
“But I’m tired,” said Colin, a breath away from tears.
“Don’t cry, buddy,” I pleaded. “Don’t cry.”
I flashbacked to that crazy night of hiking up Ute for a moonlight ski with a group of female Post Independent co-workers. I was to the brink of total exhaustion, but the girls kept me motivated. Like a bunch of mothers, even though we really didn’t have kids.
It comes natural I guess.
My variation of that line from “A League of Their Own” … “There’s no crying in snowboarding,” seemed to work. No tears were shed. But I was advised that a restroom break was quite necessary.
“I know, I know, I promise we’re almost there,” I said.
Funny, my mom used to say the same thing on our family vacations driving down to Florida.
“How do you balance and go fast?” Colin asked.
I had to be honest. The two sticks on my feet didn’t help.
“I’m a skier, but I’m pretty sure you just point the board and go,” I said.
That must have sounded like a great idea because Colin snowboarded all the way to the bottom, where we all met up at the lodge.
Lynne was standing there in her white snow pants, a smile of relief covering her face. She must have looked like an angel to Colin.
But he breezed by her to the restroom with other priorities.
“I was worried about you guys,” she said.
I could tell how nervous she had been by the relief in her laugh.
“They did fine,” I assured, knowing I had not shared the same fears Lynne had when we were up there.
I thought of my own mom and all she has sacrificed for me. Oh how I’ve made her worry in her day. And I remembered my other girlfriends whose children are the lights in their lives.
“You did great today, Lynne,” I told her.
Little did she know, I was talking about more than her learning to ski. Being a mom, she probably realized that.
Motherhood is truly amazing.
April E. Clark is wondering if there’s an antidote for baby fever. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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