Some people say the most beautiful sight in the world is that of a mother holding her newborn baby or a sunset coloring the sky with majestic shafts of purple and red. But I would suggest the most beautiful sight in the world is watching your husband drive away with a car full of your kids as they head out for a day of skiing without you.
You might remember from a column I wrote a couple months ago that skiing isn’t really my thing – that it causes me to weep, wail and gnash my teeth. But I have still gamely gone on at least three family ski trips this winter season. And I have to admit, although the preparation part isn’t my favorite (“Whose boots are these? Did you remember the poles? Where are my snow pants? My sleeves are bunched up in my coat, and I’m going to go ballistic until they are un-bunched!”), there have been moments during our days on the mountain when I have thought, “Hey! I’m actually having a good time! I could see myself coming up here and doing this again!”
But those moments are rare and usually dashed when 1) I fall; 2) a child has to go to the bathroom shortly after being fully suited up in snow gear; or 3) we accidentally leave two pairs of skis outside the lodge, can’t remember what either pair looks like and therefore can’t reliably describe them to the people in lost and found.
But this broken road is what led me to this last Saturday when I decided that I deserved a non-ski day and my husband decided he could probably get all the kids to the mountain without my help. I woke up extra early to make a big pancake breakfast and put sack lunches together just to make sure everyone knew that my day was not going to merely consist of me sitting around and doing nothing – not until after they left, anyway.
And then came the sad moment when they all drove away without me (again, sarcasm). I waved wildly and bounded back inside my warm, silent house, a whole day ahead of me to do whatever I wanted. I started by heading to a juice shop and getting myself an acai bowl. As I sat in silence and savored every bite, I thought about how very civilized a Saturday morning could be, given the right conditions.
My day went on delightfully from there. I read the newspaper. I put away the bin of clean laundry that had been sitting in a corner of my bedroom for two weeks. I talked to a friend for 20 minutes without even one interruption. I flipped through a magazine whilst eating handfuls of cookie dough. It was heavenly.
And then the guilt monster started creeping in. I thought of my husband schlepping six bedraggled kids and all their gear up and down the mountain; going back to the lodge to look for a wet pair of gloves that somebody inevitably left behind; dealing with pleas for french fries on the way home – and I figured I better make it look like I hadn’t had too much fun.
So I went into the playroom and started sorting games, books and toys, ending up with three bulging bags of items to donate. I headed to the kitchen and made homemade chili, corn bread and chocolate chip cookie bars for the famished family who would be returning in mere hours. I ran to the grocery store to grab a few must-have items (read: milk, milk and more milk).
Before I knew it, it was 4 p.m., and my family would be pulling in any minute. I realized with sadness that I had totally mommed up my free day. I don’t know why I feel compelled to justify my relaxation time. My husband certainly doesn’t care; he says his greatest wish is that someday he’ll come home from work and I won’t feel the need to immediately say something like, “I know it looks like I haven’t done anything today, but, I swear, the house was clean 30 minutes ago.”
I think I need another shot at this. Honey, grab the snow gear; it looks like you’re all spending another day on the mountain.
Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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