Turning the mountain back into a molehill
Except it's not really all that high, unless you're a 7-year-old itching to scale it. Unless you have memories of a previous failed attempt. Unless the peak is smirking over your patio every day, taunting "nah nah nah nah boo boo, you can't catch me."
"Mommy, when can we climb Mount Blackie again?" the guys would ask at least monthly.
It'd been more than a year since our last try, a climb that was much harder than it had to be. We never found the beaten path - a trail soldiers regularly use for fitness training - and instead scaled peaks pocked with crumbly rocks and lurking cacti. We wound up needing the winter parkas the guys had loaded into their backpacks, not to shield them from the 80-degree weather, but to protect their posteriors from cactus after they figured out that Mom was right - it really was easier to slide down than to walk.
Though Boots had vowed to never again climb the mountain, within weeks both were clamoring to give it another go. I put them off until a few weeks ago when a friend and I texted back and forth about weekend plans with our kids. "P wants to take them to climb the mountain. Is that OK?"
Had Big Guy not been looking over my shoulder, I probably would have had something urgent to do. Alphabetizing my spices, maybe. But because he was peering intently and starting to drool a bit, my thumbs wound up hitting the "O" and then the "K."
"It'll be all right this time, Mommy. P's a soldier. He knows the way," Big Guy said, patting my shoulder.
"I'm still taking a big pack of water," Boots said, scurrying for his backpack.
P did indeed know the way - he'd run it many times before. "Getting up is not bad. I can always beat the young guys to the top. Getting back down is the killer - the young guys try to go too fast, and that's when they get in trouble."
Great. We haven't even started and we're already throwing around words like "killer." I studied the route and tried to assess the likelihood of an ambulance making it to the top. The path looked wide enough, though the terrain was loose and shifty. Maybe a four-wheel drive or Medevac copter.
While I pondered, Big Guy and a 6-year-old friend scampered like billy goats. Boots didn't trail by much, slowing only to turn and wave occasionally. "Hi, Mommy! I'm not whining this time!" I think he also was making sure I still was breathing.
I was, but only because whoever created the trail realized that there would come a day when soldiers would drag their not-as-fit families up the hillside. It would be good to install benches at strategic points lest families start keeling over, the designer must have thought.
As I sat and panted, I was ready to wave the waving Boots on. I can just meet them on the way back down, I thought. Then I caught the expression on Billy Goat Big Guy's face as he neared the cross at the top of the peak. This is going to be the biggest thing he's done in months, and I have to be there to see it, I thought.
I panted. I gasped. I stumbled. I finally made it, and the view was oh-so worth it. I'm not talking about the scenic vista of the Army base sprawled below. I mean the looks on the guys' faces. "Hey, Mommy! I made it and I didn't whine one bit!" Boots cheered.
A funny thing happened on the way back down. I started to feel good. And accomplished. And entitled, as in "I deserve a banana split the size of the ones that only the football players could finish at that ice cream shop near my college."
Yeah, I did it. And I didn't whine one bit.
Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.