Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Stolen Runs

Sunday afternoon, I snuck in a few ski runs with my teenaged daughter. She’d spent much of the day competing in a ski race and was tired from the hours on the hill, the earlier-than-usual race day wake-up call, and the emotional and mental exertion of competition. Add to that this winter’s weirdness of booting up and eating lunch in a cold car, and I wouldn’t have blamed her if she’d opted to go home and curl up someplace warm and cozy with a good book.

 But I’m glad she chose to ski with her mom instead.

The older my children get, the more I find myself cherishing the stolen moments – an unexpected ski through the woods with my son, a quiet hour of piecing together a puzzle with my youngest, an afternoon on the mountain with my oldest girl. There are plenty of times where these growing children of mine retreat to their rooms as soon as they are home from school, or skate off to the lift with their friends without a backwards glance, or are aggravated by my very presence. And I’m (mostly) OK with that. It’s all part of the process of growing up.

There are also many moments of teenage angst, siblings annoying each other, the stress of making their way through middle school – on top of the constant curve balls of doing so during a pandemic – and a mother (me) who doesn’t always have the patience to gracefully dance through it all.

Somehow, Sunday afternoon, I convinced Ella to keep skiing. Decision made, we clicked into our skis and pushed away from the race day hubbub toward the lift. We headed to the summit of Cannon, passing through the mid-mountain snowmaking fog to rise into the cold sunshine of a world above the clouds.  

This late in the day, many skiers had gone home, so we had our choice of trails, without having to human-slalom our way around other skiers.

Not so long ago, I brought up the rear when skiing with the kids in case they fell and needed help, or to make sure they turned the right way at trail intersections. I hoped, in those days of snowplowing and pony slope runs, that there’d come a time when the skiing pace was a little bit faster. Now, I play caboose because I don’t have a prayer of keeping up. I love watching my kids race ahead of me, all fearless speed and nimble turns.

But Sunday afternoon wasn’t about keeping up so much as just hanging out. We chatted on the chairlift – about what, I couldn’t tell you. I don’t recall the specifics of our conversation, but I am holding tight to the feeling of just being with my daughter. No stress, no angst, no more race day nerves.

Just a mom and her girl, sunshine and snow, and a few stolen ski runs. 

Original content published by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul. This essay appears as Meghan's January 14, 2021 Close to Home column in the Littleton Record.