One Way Only

It was a tough morning for me.  It was a few days before Christmas and while I was fully aware of the burdened expectation that I should be feeling “merry,” I was in a lot of pain.  It was a tough week for many reasons and the weighted pressure to “keep going” was getting heavy.  On mornings when my heart is heavy and my faith imbalanced, it’s not easy pursuing the day that awaits me.  It’s hard to get up and stay standing.

The kids wanted to go sledding for quite some time without it being in our yard. I heard some sniffles and contemplated if I should gamble with another risky round of perpetual sickness.  I should also mention I was alone.  It was going to be me, myself and I wrangling the kids with snow gear in and outside of the car in frigid temperatures.  Then, I had to think about where to take them?  So I thought of a local park with what I believed to be age appropriate hills.

Note: age appropriate.

I decided to make it my personal parental conquest.  So there I went.  Rallying up the troops to get in the car and make our way to go sledding.  I chose what I envisioned to be the perfect spot, put on the never-ending layers of clothing and took them out one by one to make our way up the hill.  It was cold, windy and the snow flurries were burying their joyful faces.  I wondered if Autumn would be able to pull her sled up the hill, but then I forgot she was my daughter.  She was determined and therefore, no altitude, freezing wind chills and throbbing thighs were going to stop her.

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I situated Benny so he was set to watch as we made our first descent down the hill.  There were two hills to choose from.  One was what I believed to be a safe and manageable one with three children; while the other was one I set my eyes on to return to without children.  I wanted to test it out so Autumn and I went down first.  Amazed by the speed, we got to the bottom of the hill and I wasn’t sure what to expect from her.  I looked over her shoulder and saw that her face was entirely covered in white snow, but beneath it laid the most forgiving smile.

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Isaiah anxiously waited for us to return to the top of the hill for his turn down the hill.  Expecting that he would be nervous, I insisted that I accompany him for the first ride.

“No Mommy, I can do it.”  So, off he went.

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I watched and before I knew it, his sled took a sharp turn to the right where the big, steep hill was.  This folks was not age appropriate.  You know the one that I had reserved for me to return to because it was really made for adults?  Yup, that one!  I couldn’t run after him because I had Autumn and Benny at the top of the hill beside me.  I had a moment where I contemplated skidding my way down the hill to throw my body weight onto the sled to stop it, but he was too far gone at this point.  I nervously waited to see if he was going to fall, slide off or make it to the bottom in a snowman of tears.

Then, there it was.

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My invitation.

He got up and smiled before yelling, “Mommy, did you see that!?”  He was covered in snow and immediately popped up to make his way up the treacherous hill to go down again.  When he walked up the long hill, his smile was frozen to a grin that stretched from ear to ear.  He was happy, proud and astonished at what he just experienced for the very first time.  Truthfully, so was I.  I couldn’t stop smiling for him.

So we all went a few rounds.  We giggled and came to a simultaneous conclusion.  Walking up long, steep hills is by far the worst part of sledding.  So we came to a consensus that the next time we went sledding, it was going to be at a place where they pull us up the hill.

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Before it was time to go, I told Isaiah and Autumn that they had ten more minutes before we had to return home to defrost ourselves.  I watched them with Benny by my side and all of a sudden, I found peace.  I watched their little legs make it up that big hill with nothing but gratitude, happiness and calm.  The sky was blue and sprinkled with white snowflakes.  I watched Isaiah yelp as he went down and giggle as he climbed back up.  Then it dawned on me.

My invitation wasn’t just about witnessing their joy.  It wasn’t just about the parental victory I found in hauling my three kids to go sledding entirely by myself.  It was the realization that sometimes we may decide that the descent isn’t worth the risk.  It’s too much work, but what if the journey is in the descent?  We may not volunteer to go down or even be prepared to go, but what they taught me that morning was that no matter what, the only way back from the descent is UP.

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In Love & Truth,
Grace

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