Last week we took our three kids snow skiing for the first time. I have to confess that it was an exhausting trip, but definitely one filled with amazing stories and emotions. I packed five bags filled with an infinite list of things needed for the exciting trip. Warm jackets, thick socks, goggles, hats, gloves… basically everything needed so my kids could be well prepared.
I got on the plane feeling thankful for being so lucky to be able to give our kids this great opportunity and to be able to live this experience together. I was sure that the three of them would bring back a suitcase filled with new skills, experiences and anecdotes from their first ski trip. But boy, was I surprised when I realized that the suitcase filled with new life lessons on our way back was mine!
Ok, so we got to the magical town that once was filled with mines and after we settled in, we went directly to drop off the kids at the Ski School. The poor guys couldn’t even walk with all the equipment they had to carry; not a single thing was missing though, they had their helmets, skis, boots, Blistex, Kleenex and all.
After three days of intense lessons, by the fourth day, they “let the kids loose” as my brother in law put it. They were ready to conquer the top of the mountain. And even though they assured me that they were ready to ski down the whole mountain by themselves, I wasn’t brave enough to do it without doing some tests that would assure me they really were capable of doing it. So at first we came down only small runs so I could confirm that they knew how to come to a stop and that they knew how to get on and off a lift.
Only after realizing that they really learned all these things really well, was I able to accept the fact that yes, they were ready to go up the mountain with me.
Suddenly, just like that, I was right at the cliff of a very steep mountain waiting for the moment to ski it down. I had already skied that part of the mountain a thousand times, but never had I seen it as dangerous and imposing as when my kids were about to face it.
I still remember my oldest daughter’s face when she turned to look at me to see if I approved of the craziness we were about to do. I just smiled and nodded trying to give her that reassurance she needed to start skiing down; obviously behind that smile I was hiding all the panic I was feeling.
So we started our descent and at the beginning I noticed that they needed me to be their leader. They asked me to lead the way and just like ducklings behind their mom, they started following me. After a while, each of them decided to take their own route and go at their own speed, leaving me behind while they traced their own and individual story.
What a great lesson! Yo Mariana learned that as parents, during the first years of our kid’s lives, we are their guides, their leaders. We show them the way that we think is more convenient for them to get where every parent wants them to get: happiness.
I realized that it was going to be inevitable for that moment when each of my kids chooses their own route to come. I’m sure the route they choose will be really different to the one I would have chosen for them, but I know that if I want to have them close in my life, I need to respect it and always support it.
When I realized this, I gave them that freedom they were yearning and I switched positions so I could now watch them up close skiing a few feet behind them.
It was really hard to see that sometimes they were heading directly into the hardest part of the slope. I was dying to yell, “Go the other way!” and to prevent that inevitable fall. What a great learning as a mother. I’m sure I won’t be able to be there to prevent all the times they’ll fall in life. So I bit my tongue and decided to keep quiet and wait. And when the unavoidable fall happened I quickly approached my daughter to assist her. She was expecting me to lend her my hand and help her get up, but my, was she surprised when instead I laid in the snow next to her and told her “I’m going to show you how to get up by yourself.” After a ton of tries, she was able to get back on her skis and just watching the glow in her eyes of how proud she was, made me immensely happy.
I believe that as parents, even if it's really hard for us, it's important that after giving our kids all the tools and “equipment” needed to face their mountain - to let them fall. It’s impossible to think that we’re helping them by avoiding them to fall. It’s by showing them how to get up and figuring out why they fell, that we will see our kids turn into independent, secure and happy adults.
Obviously patience is key, and I have to confess that a lot times I lost it between the snow covered trees ha ha. But I’m pleased to know that at least I tried with all my heart to teach them something.
What an amazing trip! A lot of things lived and learned.
My loving kids: I wish you a life filled with mountains with amazing trails. I know that at the beginning you’ll want to trace your own route and will want to climb it down as fast as you can. But if possible, sometimes remember to stop, take a deep breath and enjoy the marvelous scenery you have around you.
I hope I’m as brave and have the same courage as I do now when it’s time to let you all fly and write your own story. I think I will never be prepared for that moment, but I wish that when it comes, I see you ready and anxious to go, knowing that always, until the day I die, I will unconditionally be just a few feet behind you to come to the rescue in case you need me.
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