Her middle name is Frost, after her maternal great grandmother, so it should have come as no surprise that she’d take to skiing. We made our way to Vermont early, the winter sun ricocheting spectacularly off of the wide expanses of snowy Vermont country side. It was one of those drives that leaves me quiet, awed by the privilege of living in a place so beautiful it will make you believe in a god, magic, and fairy tale endings. Keeping it real, by the 50 minute mark we were whiplashed back to the land of, “How many more minutes” and “Um, my tummy doesn’t feel so good.”
We survived, hopeful feelings and breakfasts still intact. After gearing up and purchasing lift tickets we spent some time on the bunny hill. Eventually Sean and the big girls broke away to try the mountain. Finley and I stayed on our gentle circuit, surrounded by would-be snowboarders and a group of tween boys being lead by the Vermont State Adaptive Ski Program that put a happy lump in my throat. Finley would nod with her goggle-clad eyes and say, “Look at that, mom. Wow, isn’t this just so cool?”
Round and round, up and down we went. I would have her nested between my legs, cajoling her every now and again with a, “Now you take your own weight, Fin. Up tall or I’ll run out of juice.” Dutifully she’d reposition herself and say, “Getting french fries on and go.” After one particularly intense run of avoiding others I asked her if we could take a tiny break. She’d spied an abandoned lift seat and was bursting with excitement to perch on it.
I was proud of her, heck I was proud of both of us. I am not so great a skier that leaving me with the most novice skier in our family was the best decision. Something about it brought back the new mom in me—insecurity and doubt left and in their place was a calm strength—
We can do this, baby, you and me.
She never got frustrated as she fell, I never panicked about moving too fast or looking foolish. She tested her ability to push through wanting to be a master from the start and I didn’t question if I was doing it wrong.
After a richly priced lunch on the mountain, we headed up in two chairs on the quad lift. The speed, height, wind, or blur of fast skiers could have easily tipped Fin (and me) into uncomfortable territory, but it was more breathless, “This is awesome.” Briar and Avery zigged and zagged, stopping every 50 yards or so to turn around, tip their helmets back and smile up at us as we eased down the hill. I marveled at the generosity of the other skiers, encouraging smiles, kind detours to give us a wide berth, and a general sense of the mountain belonging to everyone. We made two runs before Finley and I headed back to the bunny hill to allow Sean and the girls time to ski the summit.
We explored the other side of the bunny hill, experimented with turns and speed. Finley began asking to try a little on her own. There were falls and laughter, but right through to the moment we loaded up the car to head home, it was a day of pure fun.
The icing on the cake that I wouldn’t have thought to ask for came about an hour after we got home. I was making dinner and I heard Finley call to me from the upstairs bathroom, “Mom, I need you.” She’d pulled out her tooth, the hand towel on the counter dotted with blood. “I saw it just hanging by one thread and I used the towel like you said.” The new gap winked at me and my nose stung with the call of tears to come. Just like that the hurt of only a few days ago was replaced by knowing so confidently that even when I’m not with her, she keeps me close.