These alternating thoughts were with me as the chair lift left the loading station at the bottom of the mountain and slowly ascended. Sitting beside me was my youngest, a spunky if not demanding eight year old who with pleading eyes had begged me to take her on another run down the mountain. She was animatedly chatting about this and that as we passed the tall numbered support beams holding up the ever circling series of chairs.
As we passed support pole 2 and 3 and 4, all I could feel was the throbbing pain of my tail bone from two very different, yet equally painful and embarrassing spills I had taken during our group ski lesson only a few brief hours earlier. Yet as I got to pillar 5 and 6 and 7, I started to feel the tell-tale signs of anxiety creeping in: my breath was a little caught, my shoulders were tensing, my mind was creating over-the-top radicicolous scenarios that involved ski patrol or walking down the mountain in my socks or blatant refusal to ski and demanding alternative means to return to the lodge.
But as we got to pole number 8, the happy chit chat beside me suspended and her little pink gloved hand took mine. “Mama, I’m sorry I asked you to come with me. I know you are nervous.”
And there it was.
I was nervous and I could easily accept that. I was possibly on the brink of a full-fledged panic attack and I could accept that. I offered her the best smile I had at the moment, saying, “Don’t be sorry, I’m okay.” Then I saw her shake her head . . . neither of us were convinced.
When the older kids had gone off, this eight year old had balked at my ludicrous and apparently degrading suggestion of another trip down the bunny slope. As one of my best friends stood beside me, watching the struggle I was having between my fear and my desire to be not only the mom I want to be, but to be the person I want to be, I had made the choice to get on that ski lift. It was my choice to be there in that moment with my daughter. It was where I wanted to be.
So between polls 8 and 14, I talked. I told my daughter that I was afraid and that it was okay to sometimes be afraid. I told her it was my choice to be there and not her responsibility. I told her that when I get nervous I focus on deep breaths and I try to label my feelings for what they really are. I told her that I wanted to be brave in this world and being brave is not about falling, being brave is about standing up again.
As the number 15 loomed ahead, we raised the bar and prepared to ski gracefully off the seat. I said aloud, “I’m a little anxious about this” and then I did it.
Were we slow and cautious skiing down the mountain? Of course.
Did I fall? Yup, but just once and I was easily able to get up and going again.
Am I glad I went? With all my heart.
Sometimes in life we fall . . . sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively . . . but we all fall. Sometimes we get right back up, sometimes we stay down for a while, and sometimes we slide on our bottoms until we can find better footing.
It is not important to fall so that we learn humility, it is important to fall so that we can learn our strength as we stand again.