The fortuitous convergence of a Sunday afternoon babysitter, a playdate for Sam and what’s probably (hopefully) the last big snow of the season encouraged Rob and I to head out on our “skate-skis” yesterday. Skate-skiing is nordic skiing with slightly different boots and bindings that allow you to skate instead of slide. One of my friends said it’s like running instead of walking, and that’s pretty close. It’s definitely more work than the old-fangled cross-country skis. It was only the second time we’d tried it.
Rob is more of an endurance athelete than me (I won’t run unless someone’s chasing me with a brand). He took to it right away. I’d skate for a while, then scoot along like you do on regular nordic skiis, then try skating, then scoot. I was slow.
After we’d been out for a while, I started to wonder–why wasn’t anyone else scooting slowly along? Why was everyone who passed me going in the opposite direction skating along and smiling? We couldn’t possibly be the only beginners out there. Did they maybe fake it just because they were passing someone? It wasn’t very crowded, so that was possible, but I doubted it. Still, they passed me, the smiling skaters. All waved and said cheery things. I waved and responded too, because I was having a good time, even if I wasn’t skating along at full speed.
But the difference gnawed at me. I felt even more outclassed by the outdoor types who surround me than I usually do. Until we turned around.
Turns out that this course was one of those places–if you bike or ski at all you’ll know what I mean–where it just looks flat. Really, we were going just very slightly uphill. All those other people were going just very slightly downhill. And it made all the difference in the world.
I’m thinking parenting is like that. Those moments, when you look over, and everyone else is handling it just that much better than you, waiting out the tantrum instead of throwing the kid over their shoulder and hauling it out to the car, taking a bout of barfing in stride–maybe, at that point in their family life, they’re going ever-so-slightly downhill and it’s helping them to go over those little bumps in the road just that much more easily. If things for you lately have been uphill–three sleepless nights before the barfing, a long day of whining leading to the biggest tantrum of all time–it’s just not going to go so great.