Wednesday, 11 March 2009

On the parenthood piste

When I first went skiing at the grand old age of 28 I was instantly amazed by the discovery of a whole new world that I had previously been blind to. From the airports filled with braying Brits bundled up in down jackets to learning the tricky knack of staying upright on the slopes, something I am still working on a decade later. 

While I lay awake last night waiting for the familiar cry of 'Eh, eh, eh' to emanate from the baby monitor, heralding the next night feed, I began to think about the parallels between learning to ski and becoming a mum - not an obvious comparison, but it was late at night. 

Not only do both mothers and novice skiers have to get used to an environment where physical discomfort and emotional distress are everyday sensations, and where you would be often left weeping and paralysed with fear with no rescue in sight, it also introduced you to experiences that were previously a closed book. 

Getting know about carving skis, blue runs and 'ze snowplough' was like learning a different language and apart from the clue in the name I wouldn't have had any idea what Snow and Rock sold, ditto nipple shields, epidurals, travel systems and Mothercare

Just as once I'd been introduced to the joys of skiing, I developed a sudden and unhealthy interest in Ski Sunday (and who can blame me, have you seen the thighs on those downhill racers?), as soon as that blue line appeared on my first pregnancy test I couldn't stop surfing the upper reaches of the Sky channels to Discovery Home and Health for a daily dose of Baby TV. As I watched in fascinated horror as other mums pushed and screamed their babies out the sight induced the same clammy-palmed terror as contemplating an icy red run. 

Like Posh Spice and her famous Chanel skis,  I also convinced myself that  an inability to actually control yourself on skis should be no barrier to buying lots of nice shiny new clothes to parade on the piste, and motherhood presented another fantastic retail opportunity. Instead of wasting money on overpriced skis covered with features I'd never use, I found myself adopting the same ignorance when it came to choosing a pram and dropped hundreds of pounds on one I could never work out how to fold down. It, like my skis, now gathers dust in our loft. 

But perhaps the closest similarity I can draw between skiing and motherhood is that tanking up on strong alcohol never fails to make me feel like I much better at it than I really am. 

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