I had a vision. A beautiful image of glimmering blades of the ice skates gliding across the cold white rink. I imagined our mittened hands holding onto each other as we flew across the ice. I even thought about the steaming hot chocolate we would sip by the fire after an afternoon skate.
This vision was not our reality.
If you had walked in and had observed us during our parent and child learn to skate lessons you would have witnessed tears, both from myself and Ms. J. You would have overheard whining again from both myself and Ms. J. You may have watched as a toddler, sprawled on the freezing ground, kicked her skates digging grooves into the ice with each slam of her foot, while I stood, stunned, above her clueless on how to get her up off the ground.
Rather than us floating across the rink you would have seen me bent over, holding a three-year old under the armpits as she begged me not to let go and randomly picked her feet up off the ground forcing my poor back to hold all 30 pounds of her. You may have noticed how I struggled to stand up straight after 30 minutes of this.
There may have been a few tantrums. Some from a three-year old claiming she hates skating and others from myself, storming off the ice in absolute frustration.
If you wandered around the rink you may have overheard similar arguments happening all around the arena. Frustrated parents demanding their child PUSH their foot into the skate while trying to ignore the stench of sweat and wet socks. Perhaps they were begging their child to stop fidgeting while they hunched over the bench attempting to tie up a tiny skate, dodging the sharp blade as it rests between their knees.
Each and every week it was the same thing.
THIS chaotic scene was nothing like my vision.
Regardless, every Monday we lugged our duffel bag filled to the brim with skates, mitts and helmets. Every week Mr. C or I, each taking turns, stepped out on the ice holding Ms. J’s hand as she nervously felt her way onto the rink. Every week we watched with pride as she gained her balance and her tiny little steps became more confident. We encouraged her to keep trying, go one more step and cheered her on as she proudly declared she was going to be a figure skater.
This is the beauty of parenting.
It is hard. It is frustrating. It can try my patience in an unimaginable way. It is not always what I imagine it to be. Yet each experience teaches me that it is so much more than I could ever imagine. With each wobbly step I take I become more confident. I fall down and all I can do is get back up and keep going.
It is a beautiful mess, this parenting thing.
By next winter you may see us at the local ice rink, sipping hot chocolate in the light falling snow, gliding across the ice as a family. Then again, don’t be surprised if the scene involves a few tears and a little bit of begging from each and every one of us.