They said it was the storm of the century.
On Wednesday we watched the weather as it fell by the feet, crossing our fingers and hoping it would roll into Colorado. On Thursday, the storm blew east, dropping over a foot in 24 hours in the Colorado mountains. Powderhounds throughout the state rejoiced—us included, with reservation. We were stoked that the ski areas on I-70 were getting dumped on, but I-70 wasn’t our destination. Our sights were set southwest of Summit County, way southwest. So far southwest, in fact, that we would be closer to New Mexico than to Vail Pass.
Can you guess where we were headed? Silverton Mountain, Colorado. Some women take “me time” at the mall or the spa. I prefer to head up to the high country.
I was off on a ski weekend with two other moms. Between the three of us we had six kids spanning one and a half to six years old. We left our husbands with a set of instructions (at least they did….I figure my husband can figure out how to keep his own spawn alive in my absence), and we beelined to the mountains.
Actually we crawled. The storm coated the roads and blocked the visibility and turned a seven hour drive into a 12-hour one. None of us cared because none of us had to make a snack, change a diaper, kiss a boo-boo, interrupt a fight with a sibling, or fold a piece of laundry. We ate at McDonald’s, a place we would take our kids to ONLY as a super duper special treat, twice in one day! We threw our fattest skis and warmest coats in our cars and trucks, kissed our people goodbye, and drove into the blizzard.
And when we finally arrived in Silverton, perhaps the most remote ski area in Colorado, in the dark on Friday evening, we could barely sleep from exhilaration.
The next morning was a flurry of packing our gear and storming the “lodge,” a.k.a. the yurt-like tent at Silverton. We got there as early as humanly possible even though the lifts don’t start running until 9 because we wanted to be part of it. We told ourselves that we would be telling this story forever: we hit Silverton in that epic blizzard in early February 2014.
And then we skied our brains out. For two days. In three-feet-deep, untracked powder.
What, you’re asking, does this have to do with motherhood?
Everything. We charged. Our first run was like this: turn, face shot. Turn again, face shot again. Turn some more, until our quads begged for a break and the giggles and woops and yeehaws were as copious as the snow. Stop for a quick breather. Charge again. Turn and get another face shot. It is not an exaggeration to say that these were the best conditions most of us have skied.
Skiing powder requires being completely present in a given moment. When we were skiing, we were not moms or middle-age women. We were free and flying. We were kids. We were responsible only for ourselves.
I recently read a beautiful post by a blogger about how being “mommy” means always being needed by someone. It was a touching tribute to motherhood, and it made the rounds on the mom blogosphere. I loved the writing and I thought her message was sweet. Still, I disagree. Kids always need someone, and often that’s Mom. But if I were the only one needed on a regular basis, I’d go crazy. I cannot and won’t always put myself last.
It is not selfish to carve out time to pursue your passion when you are a mom. It is important. You are important. Recharging your batteries and giving yourself a well-earned break is going to make you a better mom. It’s going to show your kids that Mom does more than work in service of them and her job and her relationship.
Those two days of powder skiing powered my through a February that was lousy with runny noses, work deadlines, and high-fiving Jeff as we passed each other each day like ships in the night. It wasn’t just the snow. It was the friendship and the commitment—leaving home in a blizzard and plodding along unplowed roads because we could. By the end of the trip, exhausted and elated, one of my friends said she might never return. She had hit Silverton at its absolute best, with 36 inches of fresh and a stellar group of skiers.
That’s one way to look at it. Here’s another: if it was this good now, it will be this good again. I’m going back, without kids, with good friends. That much is certain. I may not get epic conditions, but, then again, I might. Besides, that’s not the point. The point is to give myself a well-deserved break so I can come home with enough hugs and patience and humor to appreciate it when the two-year-old goes on hunger strike because we run out of yogurt, and he refuses to eat anything that is not yogurt and granola and when my preschooler tells me he “just had a little accident in my pants, but not a very big one, but it might smell terrible.” It did, and I didn’t care. I was back to being Mom, and I did what moms do.