Skiing with Mary

I’m not an all day recreation girl. I like my play in short bursts– a quick run, writing in my blog, an online shopping trip or taking photos. Thus, I haven’t skied much with my kiddos. The commitment of spending the WHOLE day away gives me nervous fits.

As a teenager I was a dedicated, reckless skier: attacking the moguls, pulling backflips off jumps mid-mountain and jumping off 60-100 ft. cliffs. But my belief in my own immortality died the day Ben was born and now I can’t look at a McDonald’s Playland without trepidation(total disease factories!).

Grandpa Fritz has taken over the ski instruction of our kiddos. He has endless patience and unfailing kindness. Utah is full of great ski deals for kiddos– free passes for kids under 10, ski swaps for cheap equipment and family friendly resorts– and he knows how to take advantage of them all(although I had to draw the line when he bought Mary a blue boys ski suit at a swap for $2; my baby girl does not wear blue).

My friend and I bought some discount passes back in August when I believed I could actually be fun enough to go skiing 5 times in one winter. Ha! Chris called me earlier this week and reminded me we hadn’t gone once. We made a plan and announced to the kids that Saturday was the day. They cheered with excitement and the plan was set in stone.

So this morning, when nothing major had happened to weasel my way out of going I schlepped to REI, rented skis, then gathered up everything we needed for a day on the mountain. Ben was already at the resort and Stefan, Hans and Xander are confident, able skiers– it was starting to sound like fun.

But Miss Mary reaaaaaaaally wanted to go. “I’ve been wanting to ski with mom my whole life.” “I am a good fast skier.” “I won’t cry and I’ll ski all day.” “Pleaaaaaaaaase! I want to be with my mommy.”

She cried and begged and quite frankly I can’t resist that. I spent most of my childhood desperately trying to keep up with older brothers and I can’t stand to squash the spark in a little one who truly wants to learn.

Full of thanks and promises to be “so good, almost perfect,” Mary got bundled up and came along.

The walk across the parking lots in her ski boots did her in.

By the time I’d exchanged my voucher for a pass she was crying to go home. Great. I talked her into just one run down the mountain.

We rode the lift with Xander and Hans. The moment we were off the ground the wind picked up and snow fell thick and hard. Mary dissolved into tears. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I want to go home.”

At the top of the mountain Chris got off the chair behind me and wordlessly handed me the car keys. She didn’t even have to ask. She took the boys one way while I searched for the green circle– easiest way down.

Never have I struggled so much to take one run down the mountain. Mary’s ski’s slid along the snow but she put all her weight in my arms. I found myself in the very unfamiliar position of needing to stop for breath and the all too familiar sensation of still feeling like a first-time parent on my sixth child.

My legs were shaking by the bottom of the hill and the final ascent from the ski hill to the parking lot was done in the undignified position of sliding on my rear with Mary on my lap. I had to use the car alarm to find my friend’s car at the back of the lot(people just love it when you do that). Skis and boots off and settled in the car Mary cried and apologized, “I’m sorry. I said I would be good but my feet hurt and I’m cold. And I just want to be with my mommy.”

“It’s OK sweetie. You matter to me. It’s OK. I’ll take you home.”

By the time we arrived home Mary was a pink sleeping bundle in the back of the car. We’ll try again; next time will be better.

Ben just came home early so I’m headed back up the canyon to ski with the boys. Wish me luck. I hope I’ll be able to walk tomorrow.

March 18, 2008



  1. Ken

    March 16, 2008

    Dear Michelle,
    At least Mary’s not cliff jumping and doing back flips….yet!
    Thanks for sharing your day and I understand why there are no photos attached.
    I love you!

  2. J

    March 16, 2008

    oh michelle, she’s such a study in contrasts! so mature in some ways, and so 4-y.0. princess on the other. you’re such a perfect mommy for her. i loved the “i just want to be with you” comment. so precious! ♥

  3. Mama

    March 16, 2008

    Well, obviously Mary is not an all-day recreation girl either! A girl after your own heart. 😉 I am sure she looked precious in her ski gear though.

  4. Mitchell Family

    March 16, 2008

    I love to ski but for some reason when skiing was an option because I lived by mountains, I always found myself making excuses to not go. I was always glad when I did finally go. Now it’s the same way about the beach.

  5. Kerry

    March 17, 2008

    Oh Michelle, you are an amazing mama. You get props for trying. I can TOTALLY imagine Mary in that sweet pink snowsuit that you let Andie Mae borrow. She may not have skied, but I bet she looked cute.

    Did you have fun with the boys?

  6. twoelves

    March 17, 2008

    What an adventure! Poor Mary. I remember being just like that as a little girl. We have all these home movies where we were on vacation and I was crying b/c I could walk no further and wanted to be carried. Anyway, can’t wait to hear how your skiing went and the MJ thingy. Fill me in!

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