When Is It Time To Call It?

My husband has a dream. His dream involves the five of us heading out to the slopes on a chilly but sunny Saturday morning, strapping on downhill gear – skis or snowboards – and hitting the hills. Swooshing down slopes with glee, shouting at each other to watch this! was we race down, landing in the lodge after a few runs to swap joyful stories of speed.

So far: not happening.

The problem is me. Totally me. The kids have been taking lessons now for several years, and they’re coming along well. They’re bold on the hills – sometimes too bold for my tastes – and they love it, the wind in their faces, the spray of snow as they slide in at the bottom. They can’t wait to go to their lessons every weekend and they’ll take any ski trip, any time.

I took a few beginner lessons two seasons ago, and then weekly lessons last year. I’m getting better, I guess, but one thing never goes away: the terror. I just hate going fast. I hate the feeling of being totally, completely out of control (and trust me, that happens often – just about every run). At the top of every single hill, I have to brace myself, give myself a little pep talk, then grit my teeth and force myself to ski down, praying I won’t break a leg in the process.

Last year we were at Mount Packenham, a local ski hill that I have heard many others in Ottawa refer to as little more than a speed bump. If you’re into skiing or snowboarding at all, Packenham is apparently a laughable location, barely even worth sledding down, let alone skiing. But I eventually got somewhat comfortable there – I can’t even do their black runs, which others tell me are easier than green runs at literally any other ski hill on earth, but they had a few very gentle walk-in-the-woods kind of runs and I occasionally, rarely, but sometimes, actually did kind of like them.

But unfortunately my children are so, so tired of Packenham – they’ve been going there for five years and they’ve outgrown it. So this year we have graduated to Vorlage, which according to many is the next baby step up from Packenham, and we went last week for our first lesson there, and I ALMOST DIED.

Okay, I admit, that is an exaggeration. Really it’s more like, I almost broke my neck and ended up paralyzed for life.

It’s big. And fast. The lift is rickety and the runs all have weird curves and bends in them that I can’t manage. The ends of the hills are steep and sharp and you come racing into the lift line, unable to stop. There’s hidden ice everywhere and the lanes are narrow and I can’t turn or stop. I go too fast and I panic and I get convinced THIS IS THE END and when, by some miracle, I end up at the bottom without breaking both legs I’m literally in tears from the fear and the total loss of control.

Needless to say, my husband’s fantasy of us sitting around laughing and sharing happy stories in the lodge hasn’t quite come to fruition yet, as I’m usually sitting there in mega bitch mode, convinced my family hates me and the world is an awful place. FUN.

So, is it time to just call it? My husband finally told me after last week’s horror that if I want to quit, I should just quit. And trust me, I want to quit. But I do like his little dream of a family thing we can all do together. And my pink ski boots are so cute. And I literally do nothing else physical, so maybe just one thing would be good for me. Plus, I just gave my youngest, who wants to quit gymnastics because she doesn’t like her teacher, a strongly worded talk on Committing To Things We Have Signed Up For, and I guess that applies to me, too.

I’ll give it one more week, I’m thinking. Just one more week. Then we’ll see.

10 thoughts on “When Is It Time To Call It?

  1. Oh, boy. Lynn, I remember clearly my first chair lift ride at Camp Fortune. I cried the entire way up. Sheer terror. It did get better and I did learn to ski without terror but I’ve never been great at it, unlike my three boys (especially Eric, a natural who did ski racing at Mont St. Marie for two seasons, yikes!) It IS a wonderful family holiday, though. The dream is real and I applaud your persistence. One suggestion – if you can do personal versus class lessons, you might find that’s what makes the difference. It did for me. As for when to call it? Hmmm. Well, if you’ve tried one-on-one instruction and you’re still terrified… I’d say you’ve given it your all and it’s time to bring a book to the après ski zone – wearing the pink boots, of course!

  2. Mark

    Some people are not thrill-seekers, and you should not feel inadequate because of that. But I think there are a couple of things to try, at least. Do winter sports of any kind interest you? While your family is skiing, would you enjoy snowshoeing or cross-country skiing? It’s still not quite the same shared experience, but at least you’d all come in at the end of the day having enjoyed yourselves (or at the very least, not having spent a whole day being constantly anxious and scared). Those things are good exercise too – probably more of a workout than the downhill. Even hiking might be a fun alternative. The downside is that you have to do it alone, which is unfortunate.

    But based on your description (and knowing you), if I were you, I would definitely say enough is enough at this point. As to not “sticking with things you sign up for”, this is just one of the perks you get for being an adult. By the time you get there, you know yourself much better than a child ever could, and you’ve already tried enough things to know that this is just not for you. Particularly if you’re not in the situation where you’ve paid money for something that you no longer want to use (are you?).

  3. You know I go through a similar thing with camping. This internal battle of ‘If Only I Could Learn To Enjoy It’…kind of idea. They all have this dream of all of us happily camping away and yet, I never enjoy it and wish the entire time I had stayed home.

    Every summer, the kids are invited to their aunt’s private camping spot up in Haliburton. Every year, everyone looks forward to a few days (which always get stretched into just one more day) of ‘roughing it’. Everyone but me.

    It’s not that I hate camping, honestly if we were to go later September when the air is crisper and the bugs are almost all gone, I’d probably actually look forward to it. But there’s just something about being hot, and sticky, and washing in a green lake full of floaties, and using an outhouse with all my supplies, and the bugs, and if there’s a fire, there’s smoke in my hair, smoke in my eyes, smoke in my clothes…..I just don’t love it. I don’t even really like it.

    They all say it’s a vacation. I see it as work. I work at home at all the household stuff, but at home I have luxuries. Up there, it’s not like the kids help washing dishes in a plastic bucket on their own, they have to be asked first. It’s more work…And it’s them, not me, who want the greasy bacon. Bacon and eggs over a fire, and then they disappear. If it were my decision they’d eat processed foods out of a disposable bag which they can then throw into the fire pit. Done. (But no…)

    So I guess what I’m saying is, you give it a shot and finish the season, and then decide on way or another. It’s not like they ‘need’ you to be there, is there? Do you have to be on the slopes or is there a place where you can sit with a book and wait for them to arrive with their latest (horror) story of how they managed to jump over some unexpected hill?

    Good luck. I get it, on so many levels. Let us know what you decide for next ski season. 🙂

  4. lvsconsulting

    I will sit with you in the chalet while our hubbies and kidlets go ski the slopes.They can come find us and we’ll all drink hot chocolate together. 🙂 They gave up on me going skiing with them a few years ago and we’re ok with that. Especially me…

  5. Call it. Life is too short to be doing something that terrorizes you. Just go with them, sit by the fire and read a good book. You can be with them without being WITH them. Hugs.

  6. Hey, we were there last weekend, too! The boys (4 and 7) are in their first real lessons at Vorlage this year. My wife and I went down a few runs while waiting for them. The so-called “bunny hill” that’s to the right of the rightmost lift… is very tame. Did you try that one or did you get browbeat into avoiding it? 😉

    We’ll be there again this coming week, though we haven’t figured out the logistics. One of us will have to hang back with the littlest at home, but the one going to the hill is going to have a tough time managing both boys since their abilities are quite far apart from one-another.

    In any event: I know the feeling of terror. Unlike Tired Mama, I think that a bit of fear is a vital ingredient in life. 😉 Despite this extra spice, I above all else DON’T WANT TO DIE. My wife is the superior skiier between the two of us. When I’m on a hill that I can’t really handle, I just make sure to do lots of wide turns and go down the hill in a series of parallel turns. When you get to the REALLY steep or slippery parts, you just learn to embrace that despite your skis being perpendicular to the slope, you will still be sliding downwards a bit. But you’ll be going slow enough that you can just lie down for a moment if you want to. 😉

    I’m sure you know the above and that it doesn’t really help, but yeah… couldn’t not say it. There are very few slops out there that you can’t safely “slide down” if you really have to.

    Some better, more practical advice: if it turns out that it’s time to call it after all… I’m ultimately on board with Tired Mama (despite our differing perspectives on fear). Being the one in the lodge with a good book, waiting to hear their stories is a great place to be. It’s not necessarily as comfy as your couch (especially at Vorlage… do they have ANY comfy seats? Maybe bring your own!) but it’s a way to be out of the house and to still contribute to and participate in it as a family day.

  7. I’ve known many parents who cross-country ski, or snowshoe, while their families downhill ski and then they all meet at the lodge for meals. The area around Vorlage and Wakefield is beautiful for cross-country skiing … as it is around many ski resorts, so you could even do family vacations this way. It’s all fun and games until somebody’s convinced they’re going to lose a limb!

  8. My husband broke his elbow this summer, and I had to do the primary caregiving for 3 kids under 5 for a month. It left me with a very strong fear of ever getting injured myself. I enjoyed downhill skiing as a teenager but I know I’d never be able to achieve that carefree feeling now. It sounds like you’ve given it everything you’ve got. I agree that maybe X-country skiing might be a fun compromise. You can enjoy the trip with your family, have a little exercise, and then read in the chalet until they’ve had their adrenaline fill!

  9. i don’t think it will change your family’s enjoyment of the day if you are sitting in the lodge reading a book, drinking a hot chocolate, greeting them with a big smile when they are done. This is what you should be doing.. something you enjoy. you tried it. it’s not for you. a lesson for your children…. we don’t have to be good at everything/or like everything. Good for you for trying, Lynn. ENOUGH ALREADY!!!

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