Until yesterday, I didn’t know what the official definition of a blizzard was, but it is a storm that not only includes snow but “winds in excess of 35 mph…for at least three hours.” I learned that because our local weatherperson was explaining it…because we were in the throes of a blizzard.
Sounds like perfect sledding weather, no? I figured it was. With my son’s friends gone for the day and my husband busy dealing with a deadline, I thought a little one-on-one snow fun with my kid was a great idea. So my son and I bundled up and headed out for the sled hill that is a little over a half a mile from our house.
Um…they’re not kidding about the wind. It was bitter, and we couldn’t see all that much.
It had snowed nearly a foot by then, so we were trudging through snow that was close to our knees.
At about the halfway point we paused to catch our breath and looked at each other. The hill was off in the gray distance, and we could hardly hold our gaze toward it with the wind slapping at our eyes. Before we set out, we had agreed that if either of us wanted to turn back, that would be just fine. No pressure. But now I looked at my son and said, “I don’t know about you, but I didn’t come this far not to go down that hill at least once.”
So much for no pressure. Luckily, my kid was of the same mind. “Oh, no way, Mom…we’re doing it.”
And on we trudged.
I led the way, head tucked down but with an eye toward our next steps. After a quiet stretch of plodding along, I stopped and said to my son, “Man, walking through that deep of snow was tough.”
“Nah, it wasn’t too bad. I was walking in your footsteps, so I was okay.”
And in that moment—even with the wind whipping and the snow blowing—I couldn’t help but be struck by his words.
It was a perfect crystallization of what an important part of parenting is to me. Leading the way, and in doing so, helping our kids to follow without the same amount of struggle.
Mind you, I didn’t say a crystallization of all of parenting—just a part. Because I don’t believe the role of a parent is simply to make things easier for our kids. Between our schedules revolving around them, and their being awarded trophies for simply breathing—this generation is feeling pretty good about their place in the world.
No—sometimes struggling in the exact way that we do is also a powerful and necessary lesson.
Earlier in the day, my son experienced that very thing. My husband and I are so used to being the “doers” that we often forget to have our son share in the doing, as well. With the unrelenting snow, there was plenty to shovel—and our kid was out there learning that you gotta do what you gotta do…and then do it all over again. He did a great job, and not only did he better understand the hard work involved in such a task, but he had a little pride surveying his work.
For me, the blizzard brought great examples of two key aspects of what any kind of nurturing relationship should be. Sometimes you pave the way to help the person along, and sometimes all you need to do is give them the tools to take care of it on their own.
…And we did make it to the hill.
And we did go down it a bunch of times.
And I was wise enough to avoid using my son’s snowboard.
And we were exhausted by the time we got home.
…And I would do it all over again.