The morning hasn't been a great one, so far.
Jemma woke me up at 6:00 needing help with something potty-related; later, she refused to get dressed because she was "too tired to go to school" and "wanted Daddy to walk her to school" and "doesn't like gym, art and music," which she has today. Annie lost her mind because she ran out of time to finish dressing her doll before it was time to leave the house. (This is a child who, when I was explaining about my new DSLR camera and why I was taking a ton of pictures of the same object but just changing one setting on the camera to see what would happen, replied, "You mean like a variable?"; a child who is able to tell you Newton's law of gravity and theory of motion; yet is apparently also a child who believes that a doll is ALIVE and WILL BE COLD if someone doesn't put clothes on it ASAP.) Nobody could sit their butt down and eat breakfast. Somebody forgot her planner and lost her hat (AGAIN), and both children were in tears at some point.
Now I'm here, alone, with a yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Last weekend, we went skiing. It was the first time we'd attempted it as a family of four. A day before we left, I posted this as my Facebook status update:
Our status as we gear up for our first full-family ski trip: Annie, lost hat Tuesday; Jemma, lost mitten yesterday; weather forecast, 40s and rain; me, last seen on skis in 2002. So.
On Saturday morning, while Jason was in a continuing education class, the girls each had a ski lesson. I watched from my perch as they navigated the magic carpet on the bunny hill with their instructors, and then I picked them up and heard that they were "good to go" on the chair lift and the real hills.
We joined up with Jason, ate a quick lunch, and spent one million hours putting our ski gear back on. (SO. MUCH. GEAR.) (My gear, as you would expect, is also from 2002.) Then we hopped on the chairlift, all four of us in a row. It was sunny. We all had hats and mittens. We were ready to ski!
We got off at the top without incident, and Jason led us to the left. I was scanning the signs for a green run while trying to keep my eyes on the girls and while trying not to fall, so it's no surprise that I found myself just following Jason to a blue. We all did. And then we stared down what was a steeper hill than we had really meant to begin on.
"It'll be FINE," said my husband, ever the optimist. We started down. Jemma fell within the first ten yards and started to cry, while Annie zoomed ahead, going straight down the hill at top speed. I froze in the middle, not knowing what to do, then left Jason to help Jemma while I followed Annie. I tried to remember how to turn - turned right, turned left, zig-zagged my way down until somehow I was backwards for a split second before I fell spectacularly and lost my right ski. From my sitting position, I looked down the hill and spotted Annie, who had fallen and lost both her skis. I looked up at Jemma, who had fallen again and was refusing to get back up.
Thus began our first family ski trip.
For some reason, this occurs to me this morning, as I'm standing in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher with a yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach and replaying the scenes from our chaotic morning. It's not possible, I know, to rewind our day and begin again, just as it wasn't possible to un-fall on that blue run last Saturday. I can't stop the falls, I can't stop the difficult moments. What I can control is what happens after - whether or not to get up, ski down to Annie, help her get her skis back on, and ski the rest of the way down laughing at ourselves. Whether or not to get Jemma back on the chair lift (after Jason skis down with her on his back) and find a nice green run that she handles just fine. Whether or not to make sure that an inauspicious start doesn't keep us from spending the three hours after enjoying the sunshine and snow with no falls and lots of smiles. Whether or not to let a not-great morning ruin the rest of the day, or to put yoga clothes on, move forward with the day, and plan to start again with the children when they get home from school. It's about what happens after.
(Apres skiing, by the way, we snuck away for a lovely grown-up dinner at a fancy French restaurant with good friends and plenty of red wine, so I think there might sometimes be a reward for getting through the hard stuff.)