Parenting, being a mother, a father, a guardian, a step mum/ dad, an older sibling who cares for their younger sibs – it is a marathon. A race we win, not by being the fastest, but by staying. Staying in the race, swerving and getting back on track. Focusing on the finish line, all the hazy way into the distance and putting one step in front of the other.
There are rewards, pay offs, moments of grace and peace, and maelstroms of vulnerability, reflection and turmoil.
Recently the 2 Masters were in a team of young boys who represented their school in a ski racing competition at a regional level. To qualify to enter at this level, you simply had to fill in a few forms, know what snow is and how to get down a ski run, and turn up.
They did really well and the team qualified to go to State Championships and race. Nobody was as surprised that they qualified as the parents were. After all, our kids were mostly on second-hand skis and boots with this or last seasons Aldi snow gear on.
So, we turned up to State Championships, trying hard not to be intimidated by the kids who arrived in private helicopters – I shit you not – had private instructors for the race, a separate set of skis for each race, lycra suits, bent racing stocks, and teachers/ parents armed with stop watches, walkie talkies and spreadsheets. The division our boys were competing in ranged from Kindergarten (Master 5 being the youngest competitor, and certainly the only kid without stocks) to Year 4. So a significant age range. And certainly not a walkie-talkie or spreadsheet amongst us.
But we were here, and determined to have a go and let our boys have some fun and gain experience.
We kept repeating our mantra:
“Just have a red-hot crack at it.”
“Try your best and have fun”
So all the boys did. Our boys all did super well, My Master 8 and another boy in Year 4 posting excellent times. Nobody expected Master 5 to be competitive, but we were hoping he would enjoy himself, and finish each race. Master 5 was part of the team that qualified, but his times were……age appropriate.
They raced hard and raced well but that is not what I am writing about.
The moment that blew me away, that burst my mummy heart with pride was the resilience my Master 5 showed.
It was his second run.
He had completed his first and had HUGE personal moment when he got on and off the chairlift by himself. He had then curled up in my lap on the snow and gone to sleep. I woke him to line up for his next race, and we chatted about silly things, like skiing down the race course on your bum, and whether butt wind would help you go faster like a jet engine. Obviously all important race tactics and strategies.
He leaned into the first turn, snow ploughing like a champion. He stacked and his ski fell off.
Now, no one is allowed to help him. If anyone enters the track, he is disqualified. So unless he needs medical assistance, this is up to him. Remember that he still sleeps with half a dozen teddies at night and sometimes needs a nap during the day.
So, he is on a mountain, on a steep incline. His ski is now ABOVE him on the mountain, the clock is still running and EVERYONE is watching.
He gets up, climbs up the mountain to his ski, straightens everything up and puts it back on. He realises it is not on right, takes it back off, puts it back on and checks it.
He takes a deep breath, and turns his skis down the mountain and FINISHES the race. He got through every gate correctly, and hit the finish line with all his effort.
He never cried, blew up or got frustrated. He just did what needed to be done.
I was in tears.
Of course, all Master 5 was proud of was that he caught and got off a chairlift ALL BY HIMSELF for the first time.
And his biggest concern after the race – “Can we have lunch now?”