The Far Side: Living a Brave Life

The sun shines over the lift

I sat between two moms, friends of mine, on the ski lift yesterday. Our destination: The Far Side, the ski slope that took awhile to meander down, not too steep, but enough of a challenge. We found ourselves cycling through our children’s past years since the three of us had not been together in a long time.

As our feet dangled over freshly made snow, we chatted about which kids were going off to college and which might not go so quickly, how we felt about homeschool after having done it for a decade and a half, what we loved and missed about small children… The chair lift carried us up the mountain slowly, creaking occasionally, traveling between the trees, taking us up the hill where we couldn’t see the top even while we were traveling inevitably toward it. At one point the sun popped over the horizon, blinding us as it pierced our view of the mountain.

One mom felt ambivalent about some of her choices. Her oldest had finished high school early yet wasn’t emotionally ready for college at 16 and now at 17, he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. She wondered if she had pushed too hard too early and now he’d lost steam. The other mom talked about her 18 year old who is now elligible for football scholarships and we all praised her for that job well done… and then she mentioned that he has fallen head-over-heels in love. Not what she’d planned. Good girl, but still, scary with an 18 year old boy, at least for this mom.

I shared about my oldest and the fact that he took a year off before college, and now in college, is discovering that he has some learning issues that he is now, finally, addressing. The adjustment has been challenging for him and I worry.

Our oldest children… so often they take the lion’s share of our concern. It’s uncharted territory, every step they take. I was struck by how much we second-guess ourselves as we make decisions with the best intentions, best heart, full-hope forward. It also occurred to me that we are inevitably stuck in the chair, lifted by their choices and energy, worries and mistakes, not seeing the top, yet unable to get off the ride. We wait for that moment of sunlight that suddenly comes into view.

And just like that, the sun broke over the horizon. Gorgeous. However, we still had to ski down the slope.

I love our kids. I love moms. It takes courage to parent, to make decisions when you can’t see where they’ll lead, when you hope you’re doing the right thing, when the forest and the trees crowd your vision. Eventually we all get to the far side, though. And thankfully, it’s downhill from there.

4 Responses to “The Far Side: Living a Brave Life”

  1. Sandy says:

    As usual, you hit the nail on the head. I think there must be a special grace for being the oldest child. I am still going up the mountain looking for the sunrise. I wonder if I will still be second-guessing my parenting decisions when he is thirty. I hope not.

  2. Renee says:

    You brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your feelings with such insight and honesty.

  3. Marybeth says:

    “Love hurts – but sometimes it’s a good hurt.”

  4. Lisa says:

    Beautifully written. It seems every day I am riding the chair lift to the top of the mountain…I am thankful that God is the ski instructor!

    On a side note, my son’s first time to ever be at a ski resort he opted to learn to snowboard rather than ski (against our advice) – he had a horrible experience. He was on his rear more than any other place, and never even attempted to get on the chair lift. After reading your post I reflected on this day in particular and how many times he does things the harder way, by his choice. Yes, he’s our firstborn. Oh how I pray he’ll sit alongside me at some point and venture up the mountain…literally, academically, and yes, spiritually.