It’s paradoxical, the shifting of summer into winter in a ski town, because early winter in Telluride also comes brimming with promise. The anticipation of chairlifts cranking on and a full season’s-worth of powder to ski hangs in the air like so many not-yet-fallen snowflakes. We await the start of ski season, eager like expectant parents, each snowstorm pregnant with the promise of the good times to come.
It never really changes, this early winter anticipation we ski town folk feel this time of year. There are few things I can think of that I’d rather do than ski powder, after all. Few things carry such unabashed abandon, such freedom of body and spirit, as skiing a sun-lit slope swathed in downy white.
So to know that I’ll be tied to the feeding and diapering schedules of an infant this winter could seem depressing. That’s not to say I won’t carve in some quality time on my favorite runs this year, but having experienced the last few winters with a baby in the house has given me reason to believe that the amount of time I’ll be spending on the slopes will be infinitely less than they used to be, pre-children. That is the lot of a parent: You make sacrifices.
But the funny thing is, I don’t think of surrendering a good majority of my ski season in favor of hanging at home with Emme as a sacrifice. And this is why: There will always be more ski seasons in my future. There will never be another winter at home with a baby.
A second child allows a parent to savor this time of the child’s life. The first time around, with Elle, I was so shellshocked and afraid of doing something wrong that I spent the first year of my firstborn’s life in a suspended state of panic. Is this normal? Is that OK?
The second time around, you realize babies aren’t as fragile as you thought – you’re less afraid, and thus able to sit back and enjoy it. Even if that means forgoing more than a few powder runs this winter.
Last night I curled up on the couch in front of the fire with Emme. She was sleepy, smiling up at me from the nook of my arm and reaching with those floating fingers towards my face, grazing my cheek with her velvety little fingertips. We talked for a while, in that baby language of oohs and aahs and ga-gas, until her dark-lashed eyelids finally settled peacefully closed.
I moved her onto my shoulder, preparing to put her in her crib thus enabling me to go about the rest of my adult business – paying bills, tidying rooms, tapping on the computer, and the like. But her breath felt like light little butterflies landing on the side of my neck. Her form, all 13 pounds of it, was curled like a cat against my chest, our hearts beating against each other like they had five months ago, when we had shared blood and oxygen while she was in the womb.
I didn’t get up. I sat until I, too, fell asleep, snowflakes falling outside and the fire warming the house. I didn’t get up, because I know that soon enough it will be she who wants to get up and go about her toddler business. I have just one last winter at home with a baby; one last winter to sit in front of the fire and feel a baby’s breath against my skin – a sensation that’s impossible to duplicate.