Tuesday, March 9, 2010

the (almost) unbearable lightness of skiing

I went skiing. I had an epiphany of sorts as my legs burned and I skied through it. Even for those of you who know me, you might not know what a huge part of my life skiing filled when I was growing up. Since leaving home, skiing has been infrequent and since living in Ireland and then here on the East Coast, 12 years passed with only one small minute on the slopes when Ava was 4 (and I brought Jonny to the top of the mountain for the view and then he actually stopped talking to me for a couple days since he wasn't actually ready for it- being his first ever time skiing). My bad.

Maybe my profound experience on the mountain last week has more to do with who I am as a mama than the actual act of skiing, though I think it was probably a combo deal. First, there is nothing else that can duplicate the feeling of flying and that is what skiing , at it's best, feels like to me. Then, there was the small fact that I was skiing alone- no kids- with a dear friend who was my perfect ski mate and that was all I was meant to be doing. I had no other responsibilities. No other things pulling me in any way. I was free to ski. It actually felt like a retreat and I realized that I would take it over a spa ANY DAY!

The epiphany then? Simple. I need to ski more, or, find other ways to play that make me feel like a kid again- free and easy and strong. It sounds so easy, but I am a conflicted sort of person. I always want to be with my children and husband. I don't like to miss out and I love to be with them. I also really need a healthy dose of solitude for happiness but rarely get or take it. I could easily complain about the money, which is most certainly a factor (skiing can be expensive, we all know), but it has been more of an inability to find my own space to play so fully that is to blame.

This is a ramble, but the reason I decided to post these thoughts is because I did wonder- last Thursday as I rode up the lift with aching teeth from the cold wind hitting my permagrin- what do other dedicated mothers do to relax and recharge and get needed space from the beautiful intensity and demands of a family? What do you do?


  1. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I think it's because my youngest is getting old enough for me to feel okay about going out on my own frequently. For me, it used to be dancing or surfing.

    Dancing I'm determined to try - I just have to find out where to go (and who to go with) these days!

    Surfing - I've been thinking about a lot. The problem is, becoming a mother has given me a great big dose of mortal fear and I'm quite afraid to head out into the waves. Did you experience this with skiing?

    BTW - I've found your blog lately and really like it. :-)

  2. Thanks, Ms.Toasted. I totally get the mortal fear thing. I didn't feel it with skiing, though my daughter was a little worried and picturing all those amazing Olympians falling during the downhill, and reminded me several times to be sooooo careful. I am the only kid (kid?!) in my family that doesn't surf and I think it is because the ocean is so powerful. More so than a mountain by their very definitions. Dancing, yes. It is hard to find the where and with whom. Good luck and thanks for sharing!


  3. The only way to do it is to do it. There will be guilt and pleasure derived from the same action. I struggle with this same question all of the time. We are better parents i think when we make time to play with our grown up friends and by ourselves. I also think it gives our children the message that being a grown up is wonderful and still full of exciting moments and play. Let's go skiing before the end of the season and think about a team sport we could run ourselves ragged with.

  4. oh what a lovely post! In my trapped tired state I am so living vicariously. It is hard to imagine right now being anywhere other than close to my sick, badly sleeping but lovely baby. I am conflicted - I dreamt of running away today - a momentary thought - even running away for four hours is not possible as the poor wee thing is feeding every two hours - arg! I know it worn't last forever but I am glad to read of your epiphany and your zoom off into solitude and reflection! Have a silent moment for me!

  5. Umatji, how I remember that moment- that fleeting milky moment. A beautiful and maddening time with such a dependent being who you love like a crazy person. I really doubt there is anything even remotely like it at any other point in life.

  6. I LOVE to ski also. It's because I know how to do it well enough that I can absolutely FLY down the mountain with confidence. The only thing that feels close to that good is walking on a wild ocean beach and then curling up with a good book with no interruptions for an hour or two. It is hard to find worthwhile ways to use spare moments when they are so rare. Another favorite of mine is spending time with a good friend talking and talking with no interruptions. the key here is NO INTERRUPTIONS! :)