by Sunflower mom, Angela Malson
Originally posted on Eco Womb blog
As we hiked the hill against the wind, she was determined. “C’mon, mama, let’s go.” Her little body cold but amazingly strong. Her mind and soul even stronger. Her will unmatched as she had it in her head to sled down the big hill. Brothers had warned her: the salt from the road just makes the sled stick; you won’t be able to do it. But this only made her more determined. So I offered to carry the sled. It was my chance to slow down and savor this time with her.
We hiked through the snow and slush up the hill, stopping only when a wind came so fierce it took our breath away. I tried to block the wind from her. Her response, “Just walk backwards mama.” She is so wise. At five years old, she is an old, wise soul.
As we hiked, I watched our matching footprints, side by side, hers so little next to mine. Her amazing spirit shining in each trudging step up that hill. She stopped only to pick up interesting pieces of ice that were giant rocks to her. “Oh, this one is beautiful!” she exclaimed, “This one is awesome!” Not once did she complain how heavy they were or how cold they felt as they dripped down her leg.
We made it to the top. The view was beautiful, the mountains shining with light from the sun pouring down. The wind was even stronger, but so crisp and refreshing, even the gusts that literally took our breath away. “We did it!” she exclaimed again.
As we took in the view and the excitement of how high up we felt, we were ready to take the plunge. Jumping on the sled we positioned ourselves to slide down parallel to the road that had carried us up. We only had about five feet of space, in some places two or three feet, to fit us and the sled and stay on the snow or we would either end up in a ditch or end up in the middle of the road. But we were determined.
So with a push of my hands, we were off. Slow at first, making a path no one had made before. Trudging through fresh snow with hands and sled, we started down the hill. And then at the crest, getting steeper, going faster, we slid once into the road and once into the ditch. But we just repositioned the sled and kept going. Flying fast in one stretch, squeals of delight coming from my girl, woohoo’s coming from mama. Wind in our faces, smiles catching the warmth of the sun: a thrilling ride, accomplished in trying. Finally sliding to a halt way at the bottom, with giggles and slushy snow in our boots, she jumped up and decided, “Let’s do it again!” And so we did.
Hiking again the second time up with my girl was fast, we walked along the path we had created together, following footprints and sled skids. The wind didn’t feel as fierce; we moved smoother up the hill, this time knowing where we were going, but open to how it would all unfold even if it was different.
We had many more skids into the road and into the ditch, but the exhilaration of sliding down as fast as the wind made all the sidetracks worth it. Even stopping to pick up ice, shielding ourselves from frigid wind, pulling snow out of boots, and adjusting mittens, all a part of our journey.
Slowing down long enough to hike at my girl’s pace, following her instead of leading, and letting go of what was to be: she helped me be a kid. She helped me see the beauty in a ball of slush; she helped me realize that despite the strongest winds, even the kind that take your breath away (and maybe because they take your breath away) you just keep going. There is so much to learn in the moments that you just allow yourself to be.
Such beauty in the moments… the ice, the wind, the mountains, the giggles, the squeals, the grasp of her hand in excitement as she climbed into the sled ready to go again and again and again. No fear, no thought to give up or not try, no expectation of what it would be, no self-imposed limits. I used to be like that as a kid. And still am to a point, I guess. But, life kinda has you second-guessing and doubting and fearing as you try and fit into what’s expected. Why? Why do we lose that will along the way? Why do we hold expectations over ourselves? Why do we fear even the smallest of hills? When our littlest of spirits can hike a mountain and with no fear scale it down, we should follow.
What joy and exhilaration in the letting go and following our kids’ shining moments. What pure bliss to hear the squeals and feel the love. What an unexpected afternoon of connection with my girl all because I said yes to her brothers’ no’s. And, once she was cold and ready to go in to warm up, those same brothers wanted to sled with mama, too. Oh yes, we did! And this mama kept hiking and sledding, even when I skidded all the way across the road face first with my eyes about 6 inches from asphalt. Oh yes, that was fun, too. Why? Because I let go to just enjoy the moments, however they unfolded.
Thank you, my girl, for pulling my hand toward that hill, for trudging through the snow and wind without even looking back to see if I was behind you, for smiling at ice and squealing at the thrill, for sharing footprints and memories, for showing how “C’mon, let’s go!” can turn into “Yes, let go!” And, how those moments can help a mama slow down and enjoy.
For these are the moments that make a childhood. These are the moments that make connection. And if we aren’t connecting then what are we doing in this lifetime? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to just coast. I want the thrills, the hikes, the wind-stopping accomplishments, the moments of bliss, the little feet next to mine, excited just to be together.
So, c’mon, let’s go! There are more mountains to climb, downhill excitement to experience, sidetracks to take, snow to crash into, and more bliss to find along the way.
I’m ready for the littlest of moments, are you?
Originally from Maryland, Vermont, Virginia, and South Florida, the Malson family now lives full-time on the road in the Eco Womb Tour Bus traveling on waste veggie oil. Their business, Eco Womb, provides safe and eco-conscious resources and products, as well as education and resources for creating a simple and sustainable way of life with your family.
© Angela Malson and Sunflower Creative Arts, 2013