I told the hubs that my goal, this month, is to work on my T & A. He grinned broadly and guffawed. Female anatomy parts came to his male mind and amidst his lewd laughter I gave him a shove.
Transparency & Authenticity.
But for the month of January T & A really should be Taxes & Accounting. My waking moments were consumed in Excel & QuickBooks; deciphering numbers and tables. I rifled through files, ledgers, registers and countless IRS.gov websites. I did this amidst a computer upgrade. The things that were available at the click of a mouse were now moved to various locations on who knows where and in what hard drive. I was astounded when the end of January arrived. Where had all my time gone?
Months prior I had reserved a cabin in our local mountains. For a few years my sons have requested to return here; the place where they discovered snow. My mind envisioned the icicles on the eaves and the mounds of over five feet of snow, shoveled to the side. Our older sons recalled the wayward sled that narrowly missed the tree with our, then three year old; in it. We cringed at the memory when the middle son’s head banged into the back of his older brother’s; the trail of crimson drops from the bloody nose in stark contrast to the bright, fresh snow. We all were excited to return. I had two requirements. Snow and no electronics.
There was no snow.
Our comrades in the northeast were socked in it; the midwest blizzards closed airports at O’Hare and Midway. But the western coast continues to experience drought and unseasonably high temps in the midst of winter. Though the temps were in the thirties it is not cold enough for the flurries to accumulate on the ground. The snowboards sat in our SUV with our sled. We could pay premium prices for lift tickets at the crowded ski resort; our car queued with others who wished to be spectators at the junior olympics qualifying event being held there. I even convinced the non-compliant hubs to take us to a tubing play area for the boys to sled in man-made snow; where I stood in line to give my boys the experience we all saw in our minds. It was at the ticket window that I balked. I walked away as I glanced at the long lines of people behind me. This was not what I had had in mind.
I used to be the person that envisioned the pictures I would upload to Facebook of all the great things I’d done; my picture perfect ideal in my mind for all to see. I heard my sons grumbling behind me. Why are we still in this line? And I heard my eldest’s response; the trigger that brought me back. Mom wants to take this picture.
Did I mention it was a full moon? The hubs had hinted that the weather would not be cooperative. He was happy to remain in the cabin all weekend; doing nothing. His only requirement was for some rest and relaxation.
I realized the reason why I do not, usually, purchase passes or enjoy returning to the same places over and over again; year-after-year. The first time I visit a place is usually the best. I have no idea what to expect and my mind is open to the new experiences; even if they are bad. It is when I return with high expectations that I am disappointed and disillusioned. I had wanted to experience the snow with my sons at these ages they now reside. To watch them wobble on snowboards or skis and gleefully maneuver sleds. Opportunities I never had. The pictures are my proof that I could provide these missed opportunities to my offspring. And that I would remember them. That these things would mark me as a good parent.
Instead I was a grumpy one.
To appease me the boys acquiesced to an hour hike. What I hadn’t realized was the steep 500 foot elevation gain for the first half-mile. After scrambling up rocks all gripes were forgotten. The views at 7,000 feet were spectacular. Earlier in the day we had found an uncrowded spot; enjoying the fresh snow on a small embankment. I did get my picture unknowingly; the snowboards not brought in vain.
The sled came out and snowballs whizzed by. When we got too cold we made the short drive back to the comforts of our rustic cabin.
As I loaded snowboards into my girlfriend’s car, this morning, I thanked her and told her of the lack of snow. She stopped me mid-sentence; sharing the words my eldest son had told her the day before. She had asked him about his weekend and was sorry they had not been able to snowboard. She had been surprised by his reply.
Because he still had a good time, he casually told her. They experienced snow. But he actually enjoyed being unplugged, without electronics, and spending time with his family; playing board games.
Board games? I stared at my girlfriend in disbelief. This from the teen who is always plugged in; headphones on and fingers flying over the keys of his PC or cell phone? The phone had remained in his backpack with the book he had packed to read.
The youngest had wiped us all out in our Monopoly round; the real estate tycoon with multiple homes and hotels. The middle one beat us at Scrabble; which threatened to be R-rated with a lack of words to create on the board. And the eldest had accrued $500 Monopoly bills; always trying to talk himself out of jail or paying rent. It had been a boisterous round; kids yelling with the hubs’ comical commentary. I had been the quiet banker; lamenting the lack of snow while exchanging money or properties. Both times the boys also beat us at the game of Sequence. We were as loud as when we watched the Super Bowl late Sunday evening; Seahawks on the one yard line with two downs to go and an interception thrown.
My sons had understood what was important. They didn’t care if we had the idyllic picture-perfect ski resort experience. Instead they valued the rare uninterrupted family time over a piece of cardboard. Together we ate three square meals and read by the fire. These aren’t the most exciting things to do when you getaway to the snow. But our time in the mountains was distraction free. I had been fully present; allowing myself to feel the disappointment. But by truly being authentic my sons were able to point my compass in the right direction; to remind me WHY I was there in the first place.
To spend time with them.
I continue to kindle the fire, adding logs. The warmth of it fills my spirit as I find my balance. I feed my center to remind me what is important.