Every time March rolls around, I get very excited. I love birthdays and am not afraid of them. I am now officially halfway to seventy:
Today we got a foot of snow for my birthday. It was PILES of fun, and I’m thankful Matthew was able to work from home! This week was full of surprises. It began with an early birthday cake, made especially by our cousin, who owns The Master’s Baker. Seeing as though we didn’t even have a wedding cake, this was my first experience at receiving a professional custom-made cake. Isn’t it gorgeous?
Since winter is here and all, we decided we would take it by the hand and have fun with it. My next surprise was a night away with everyone at Bear Creek mountain resort, for our very first family skiing adventure!
The last time I went skiing was on my 19th birthday. My best friend, Rebecca, was giving me clues on what to do to prepare for this epic surprise she had planned with my sister. She told me things like, “Make sure you shave your legs,” and “Dress nice!” When my birthday rolled around, they blindfolded me and brought me downstairs to the kitchen where I was met by Matthew, his brother, and Rebecca’s brothers. Matthew handed me my “treasure map” to the surprise: a map of the ski place we would be going to that day! I laughed and said, “Good thing I shaved my legs!” before running back upstairs to change. It was a great memory. That may have been the time I kept skiing backwards and couldn’t figure out how to turn myself back around, which only came in handy when I wanted to wave at people as I passed them. It also may have been the time I accidentally went down a black diamond, without knowing how to slow down at all. I do remember flying past Matthew, and truly hoping I would make it down to the bottom in one piece.
Funny how time telescopes when you find yourself in the exact place you have been in the past. I wasn’t skiing backwards or even down a black diamond. Yet all of a sudden I felt the same freedom mingled with danger, and I was 19 again. Except when I fell. Then the nostalgia went poof like the snow in which I landed, and I was definitely thirty-five. And I definitely had five people I had birthed from my body, sharing the ever-expanding niches of my heart. I don’t remember what it is like to be completely separate from those feelings of mother-love. To do anything apart from my mind, body and soul being so deeply connected with another human being. I would rather be halfway to seventy and not remember what it’s like to be independent of those feelings, than be nineteen and have no idea what I’m missing. And as exhausting as motherhood can be, it’s even more exhilarating than that.
My breath caught more times than just when the wind whipped my face. As I skied next to Elsie while she zipped to the bottom of a hill, red cheeks, one strand of hair constantly falling out of her hat and helmet, I smiled at her bravery. She went from being scared to death to go down the hill, to falling, to dusting herself off and saying, “Let’s do it again!” It caught when I saw Nadine gracefully maneuvering the snowy hills, her tall self looking so beautiful. She was so helpful with Betty, both on the slopes and the night before, when we had supper together.
She’s a wonderful big sister. So is Elsie, who is also not afraid to perform interpretive dance in the middle of a restaurant in pj’s and socks.
I laughed at Elijah, my crazy, creative boy, who thought to video himself while he skied and then simultaneously wiped out at the bottom.
I found it hard to breath as I watched Jack plow recklessly and fearlessly down hills and over jumps, creating a puff of snow when he fell.
He wore his t-shirt around his face for most of the day.
I found it especially hard to believe my baby bear is growing up enough to have a ski day of her own. She absolutely loved it when Matthew held her waist all the way down the hill. I almost cried when her little voice called down to me from the ski lift and she waved her little mitten hand and went higher and farther away from me. When her daddy was not able to ski with her, this is what she thought about the whole idea:
Yes, this is her “I’m-happy-and-I-know-it-but-just-not-about-skiing” face.
Our day ended abruptly when I got a call on my phone, just as I had sat down in the lodge with Nadine and Betty and a hot cup of tea. It was Matthew, and he said Elsie had fallen getting off the ski lift and he wasn’t sure if her arm was broken. My throat had a lump in it when I saw the snowmobile with a red cross on it make its way to the ski patrol, a tiny bundle on its sled. I told Nadine to pray and then ran over to meet Matthew. This darling little thing was getting checked out, and we still weren’t sure about her condition. After a lollipop, an ice-cream bar, and many attempts by the sweet ski patrol medics to get her to smile, Matthew got the rest of the crew packed up and we left. I experienced one of the most frightening and harrowing drives through ice and sleet and snow, but made it to the hospital near our house. Long, happy story short: her arm is not broken! We are so grateful to God.
When Matthew and I collapsed into bed, he sighed, “That was the best day ever.”
I would have to agree. And this time, I didn’t even have to shave my legs.