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Wednesday, February 22, 2012



I took my 14 year old skiing today.  We met his 35 year old brother at the mountain.  The teen is with me for almost a week as his school is on break.  I have not seen him since Christmas.  I have not been skiing for 5 years. 

I started skiing with Spence when he was four.  I would put him between my legs and hold on to him while I snow plowed down the hill, his skis barely touching the snow.  When he was five I attached a harness to him.  The harness allowed me to control his speed and help him turn.  Always I was there to pick him up if he fell.

At six and seven years old he was on his own; sort of.  I always made sure to ski behind him in case he fell or got hurt.  He was always in my sight.  At eight years old we skied together.  If he fell he would get up on his own.  If I fell he was there to ask if I was alright.

Today it was mostly Spence and his big brother skiing together.  They allowed me one run on the easy slope, and then they left me, off to try the bumps and jumps of the more difficult runs.

Isn’t that the way with children?  You hold their hand, you carry them.  You pick them up when they fall, you watch them from afar.  Suddenly they are on their own and leaving you at every chance. 

They finally learn to ski, and they ski away.

It’s alright.  My legs were aching, my wind was deficient, my stamina lacking.   After several runs down the mountain, I retired to the lodge and my nook loaded with Dean Koontz.  From time to time I would look up and see my boys racing down the hill, hitting the jumps and spraying snow on every turn.

I wish I could keep up with them and enjoy the ride, but seeing them excel on skis will have to be enough and….it is.

It is good to know that I have done my job well.  I sacrificed my own skiing time to teach all my children.  I may be past the time where I can ski all day.  When I do hit the mountain I avoid the bumps and the jumps.  I am too old to risk a fall.  My children can still take a little risk. They can smoke the mountain jumps, bumps and all.

It is comforting to know that though I can no longer always be there they can ski without me.  Even though I cannot pick them up when they fall they can get up without me.

It’s a big mountain.  There are lots of patches of ice, lots of bumps and other skiers will get in their way.  It is comforting to know that they have made it this far down the hill.  They are prepared and they are able to make it to the end of the run.  I know I will not be around to see the finish, but I am sure they will do just fine.  


  1. I'm so used to your lovely sarcasm and wit that this post took me off guard. Such a lovely perspective on being a parent. Just goes to prove that being a parent doesn't really change all that much, they're yours for the long haul and it's a wise parent that can let go and hold on at the same time!

  2. As Donna says, this post took me by surprise - you're showing your softer side Joe ;)

    I loved it!

  3. How lovely.
    Parental ache mingled with parental pride and contentment they can go off into the world, to be their own person. So get this.

  4. Well, I just found your site through the blog hop, so I haven't been introduced to your sarcasm yet. I look forward to that. For now, I can say that your writing touched me. While helping them down the hills, you have taught your sons to reach for the heights. That's a priceless gift they hopefully will never abandon.

  5. what a great way to connect with kids... on a snowy mountain.. and to know that later they will be okay... on their own... sort of melancholy.

  6. My boys are only 7 and 8 and already it can feel like they're ready to ski alone. Well, at least think they're ready...
    Thanks for the follow and linking up. Nice read here, well written, not off the cuff. Refreshing that way. As to why my google follow thing says I haven't updated in 9 months, I haven't a clue how to fix that...worried ill lose followers as it is as google connect is going to be leaving us.... See you next week?

  7. Aah you remind me how much I miss skiing, with two children under four it's been put on the backburner somewhat. I think my days of skiing double black runs and are over too sadly (visiting from FYBF)

  8. I love skiing and I would love to take my children one day. You wrote this beautifully - wonderful to see you connecting with your children this way.

  9. Some of your posts surprise me with their tenderness, Joe. Like this one.

  10. Wow so glad I found you through Dr Bron, what a gorgeous post. So very true we teach, they learn and we watch and learn from them.

  11. That is beautiful, and so so true. I don't ski but this is one of the best descriptions of raising kids that I have ever read. Loved it.
    I've been toying with a post about how parenting is just a series of letting go, but unsure how to write it. Like this, is the answer!

  12. And so it is with life; we're the ones that teach them until they no longer need us. Then the time when we won't be around to seem them finish.
    But it's okay. We know our job is done. And the sense of accomplishment and the love that we put into it is greater than anything else.

  13. Your skiing story is a great analogy of the raising children journey. I'm not sure there is ever a 'destination', but knowing your kids can do the 'run' on their own comes pretty close! :-)


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