You realize how much your kid listens to your conversations with your spouse when your 6 year old son is worried he’ll get pressure sores on his bum from some new pants which have buttons on the rear pockets. I try to explain that Dad is afraid of pressure sores because he doesn’t have much of a bum due to muscle loss from having a spinal cord injury. Our little boy knows the word ATROPHY but sometimes mistakenly–accidentally calls it ASSTROPHY, which is sort of, incidentally, what his dad has. Our son has ample flesh on his rear so pressure sores are an unrealistic symptom of the fact that he doesn’t like sitting on the rug during circle time at school. “Mom, the buttons blast into my skin,” he claims, along with seams in jeans, corduroys, or itchy cargo pants.
Geoff has to be very careful when he travels because of spending time anywhere but on his custom molded wheelchair cushion. So, he flew out of Manchester this morning en route to Colorado for PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors Association) National Team Training followed by the Fall Conference. Two weeks. Yep, two weeks out west, on snow. He will love most every minute beyond the traveling part with a mono ski and giant ski bag and luggage bag. These are not easy traveling companions. Most of the time, people in airports are super helpful to him, especially at our local Manchester-Boston Airport, where they treat him with a little celebrity status.
When the kids were babies, I hated when Geoff traveled for work. He, of course, missed us, but recognized traveling was easier than staying at our house. Our daughter did not (and often still does not) sleep through the night. Never had I been so tired in my life as when our kids were newborn and 1 or 1 and 2 or even 2 and 3 for that matter. I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, and irritable regularly, so when he left for these trips out west, I envisioned them to be fabulous man– ski-cacations, complete with time at the hot tub, fresh powder, and beers out every night. These details do actually occur, but they also put in a ridiculous amount of work while they are housed together. Nine years later, as Geoff begins his 3rd term working at the National PSIA level, this year his first as the adaptive captain, I’m starting to get the bigger picture.
We’ve come out of the dark cloud of babyhood and toddlerhood and survived. I know, I know, a terrible thing to say about a precious and altogether quick period of our children’s development– but for a full time working mom whose full time working and often traveling husband who could not run upstairs in the middle of the night to share some of the late night responsibilities easily, we could NOT wait for the days when they had words to communicate their needs and enough sense to not be flight risks.
When they were babies, our kids rarely noticed when either of us was gone- it was as if we had gone to the bathroom and would return momentarily. They had snuggling grandparents and a childcare center of teachers who loved them. But now, the leaving part, is harder on Geoff and our kiddos. We make charts which delineate the nights/ days as they pass, so they know how many sleeps are left to go before Dad comes home again. We Facetime daily or every other day. We look at maps of mountains we’ve never skied at online and wonder which slope he is on- or if he is teaching a clinic or problem solving some kind of disability issue or working on a piece of adaptive equipment. They wonder when our “skiing snow” will arrive. Skiing snow, for those of you who don’t know, is the snow that comes down and stays, not just the first few fall squalls which drop an inch or two and melt away. “Will we be skiing by Halloween?” they ask. Not likely. But there is always Thanksgiving right around the corner.
Fall is short here in northern NH, and we love that our kids can’t wait for ski season to start–for the sleds to make the rounds of local heaps and hills–for our snowshoes to hike the forest along the river in our backyard– for crock pot Friday night dinners with family and friends–and most importantly for Dad to return home safely. Thirteen more sleeps…and the Halloween/forever costume wearer at home won’t have to worry about button imprints on his butt cheeks tomorrow because he’ll be rocking long underwear beneath his Wolverine “suit” for school…