When my sons were little, and just starting skiing, my husband and I had one goal: we wanted to ski as a family.
We wanted to share our passion for skiing and winter with our boys and we wanted them to love skiing as much as we did,
Now as any parent knows, there are no guarantees. Every child is a unique individual from day one, with their own personalities, preferences and quirks. Just because parents want something for their children does not mean it will happen.
Did we know if either of our sons even wanted to ski? No, we did not. But we did know that at age three, we’d introduce them to the sport.
Highlights or Bloopers
If I had a highlight reel (or a blooper reel – they’d look about the same) from those early years, it would start like this: adorable boy, dressed for an Arctic crossing, smiling, laughing, waving his mittens, stomping the snow with his boots, sliding on mostly flat terrain, and flinging himself onto the snow in exhaustion after 30 minutes, tears optional.
Each installment would progress just a little: the clothing might change and get both warmer and less bulky (Aha! The parents invested in a ski coat!), the ratio of time spent stomping on snow versus stomping (with assistance) into bindings would definitively tilt toward the bindings, while the sliding terrain would get infinitesimally steeper and the length of the unassisted glide longer, until one day the parents are the ones waving their mittens as the boy goes off to ski school.
From there the film speeds up and blurs: weekend lessons, practicing with mom and dad, junior racing, more serious racing, ripping with friends, freestyle skiing, the highlight reel for each boy following a similar trajectory of growth in stature and skills, with additional smiles, laughter and yes, a few tears.
As the boys grew, they rapidly outpaced us in terms of skill, strength and stamina, which is all I have ever wanted. For what parent doesn’t want their child to exceed them in intelligence, health, happiness and success? My goal for our sons is that they improve upon us in all aspects of life.
Treasured Times, Treasured Memories
Through the years, skiing became the focal point for our family adventures and the touchstone for a portfolio of treasured memories.
Winter bound us together, mostly for better, sometimes for worse, on chairlifts, in the car, and occasionally in the ski patrol shack (this is optional – most families I know skip this part).
Skiing bound us together sharing runs, picking lines, lifting one another up after a fall and brushing snow from our backs.
Skiing together has challenged each of us in individual ways, both physically and emotionally (for as Warren Miller infamously said, “the family that skis together bitches at each other”) and not every moment has been sunshine and light.
But looking backward through these years, as the sharp edges dull, a good many of our favorite moments sunshine and snow.
A New Year
Yesterday, we added an installment to the highlight reel. And in many ways it was one of the sweetest in our 17 years of family skiing.
First, a confession. When my boys were preschoolers, I was certain that life couldn’t get any better than it was at that time. Then it turned out the grade school years weren’t bad at all, in fact, our sons became more and more fun through those years.
Same for the middle school years: life with young teens was not nearly as difficult as billed, because together we found refuge on snow. Still, though each of these phases, as the boys grew older, I anticipated a time when they’d no longer want to ski with their parents.
I’m happy to report this time has never come. My dread was for naught. And I credit our cohesion to skiing: a sport and a passion we pursue as individuals, even when together.
Which brings me back to yesterday: a cold, stormy day that found us skiing in a party of six – three young men, two moms and one dad. In this blended configuration of two families, the sons rode the lift together, with the parents on their own chair, giving the young men space and saving them from annoying questions and “old-people” observations.
At the top of the lift, whomever was in front always waited and we all skied together. There were many smiles, lots of laughter and no tears.
Today, we’re going to go do it all again. And I’m positive that we’ll ski together as often as we can in 2017 and into the future.
Wishing you a New Year full of snow, love, laughter and the sweetest of family skiing.
More Reflections On Family
- Why I Love Being a Brave Ski Mom, August 5, 2013.
- Get Connected. No App Required. September 6, 2016.
- The Biggest Adventure, May 24, 2015.
- Learning to Fly, August 25, 2011.
- No Regret Parenting, September 9, 2013.
- Skippin’ School, October 13, 2010.
- Hello, Goodbye, December 21, 2010.
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