Have you ever tried something new? I’m not talking something that’s hobby-adjacent, like painting with watercolors if you typically work with acrylic. I’m talking NEW-new new. Like waaaay out of your comfort zone, heart-racing, knee-knocking, “this is so not me” new. For me, that was learning to ski as an adult. And three years in, I’m finding that doing so is helping me become a better mom.
Two years ago, my husband proposed that we teach our (then) Kindergartner how to ski. Now, by “we” there was an unspoken mutual understanding that we were talking exclusively about my husband. I would not be partaking because:
#1. I had never skied.
#2. I am not outdoorsy.
#3. I am not athletic.
#4. I hate the snow and winter.
Good reasons, right?
In our family, I’m the indoor parent. I specialize in board games, art projects, reading books aloud with silly voices, and watching movies. I’m indoorsy.
When my husband and son play together, they are outside running around. We live in Stratham, NH so they’re always riding bikes, swimming at the pool, or hiking at Stratham Hill Park. To be fair to myself, as the stay-at-home parent, I also do many of these things with my son. Just not as often, and definitely without the same level of innate enjoyment that my husband experiences. Like, give my husband free time and he’ll go on a five-mile run. Me? Latte, Netflix, nap.
So, back to 2017. My husband’s renting skis for my son and researching lessons for him. I’m busy imagining #lodgelife. I’ll be wearing sweatpants (my life’s goal), snuggling up with a coffee, and reading a book as I warm myself by a crackling fire.
Then I had a moment where I projected what our family would look like ten years down the road.
I’d be fully immersed in my role as a lady of lodge leisure, while dad and teenage son are off skiing. And I’d be… left in their dust. Or, I guess in this case, powder. Skiing would be their thing and I wouldn’t be a part of it.
I don’t know what parenting a teenage boy will be like. (Although this post from Burlington VT Moms Blog gave me lots of hope!) But I do fear that, as my son gets older, I’ll have fewer opportunities to connect with him. Friends will become paramount. School and activities will take up his time. He’s not going to want to pull out the giant roll of white butcher paper to draw the longest train in the world with me. Or snuggle up to listen to a chapter book read out loud.
So, I decided to do something drastic. Something that was out of my comfort zone. WAY out of my comfort zone. Like, so far out of my comfort zone that I couldn’t go any farther without starting to re-enter my comfort zone once again.
I decided that, alongside my son, I’d also learn how to ski.
You read that correctly. Me, hater of winter and all things active, was learning to ski as an adult.
Listen, folks. Learning to ski as an adult wasn’t pretty. And, for a long time, it wasn’t even fun. But the process of immersing myself in something that was not even in the stratosphere of my comfort zone gave me a way to experience the process of learning in a way that I haven’t in a long time.
It gave me new insight into what childhood is like. Sure, it’s easy to romanticize that period of our lives as a carefree time of play with no real responsibilities. But, as I learned how to “french fry” and “pizza” my way down the tiniest bunny hill you’ve ever seen, I also came to appreciate how hard learning—and therefore, childhood—can be. Sure, not in a paying-the-mortgage kind of a way, but hard in its own right.
By forcing myself to go beyond the normal learning that comes with just living day-to-day life, I came to appreciate just how difficult and demanding—mentally, emotionally and physically—it is to be learning something radically new. To be a child, in a sense.
And, in the early years of a child’s life, it’s all new. It’s a constant state of learning curves, uncertainty, and feeling uncomfortable.
Learning to ski as an adult has given me a new kind of confidence and, honestly, it’s made me a better mom. I notice myself being more compassionate, patient, and understanding.
I didn’t just learn a new sport, I learned how to get back in touch with what it’s like to be in second grade. After all, it has been thirty years!
The best part? Even though I did it to connect with my son ten years down the road, I was surprised to find it has also better equipped me to connect with him now.
I’m learning tennis now… so, watch out!