Spirits Lifted at Lowell Park

“Come on, Mama. I’ll catch you.” These words from my 2-year old almost brought me to tears. How did my little baby grow up so fast? How did he get so cute and so considerate? And did he have any idea he encouragement was exactly what I needed to break me out of my bad mood?

As my husband gently pointed out in the morning. I used to go places on the weekend. Even in winter. I used to take The Bear (aka Gjalla, our bulldog) and just explore. Find a new park and add it to my list of places I’ve been. And then we had kids, I countered.

But he was right. I had been stuck in a bit of a rut lately. Blaming COVID or the length of time it takes to get a 2-year-old ready for a roadtrip, or my burning desire to spend more time growing my GreenEyedGuide business. I could pick an excuse as easily as one might pick a random card from a deck. But this wasn’t doing me any good. And my excuses weren’t adding anything positive to my weekends. And so I committed to getting out of the house.

I held my phone near my face and asked Google, “Show me places to go sledding.” Lowell Park was only 15 minutes away and, according to one Google Ratings user, it was “the best sledding in the state.”

Color me skeptical, but after we got all bundled up, I loaded the sled and the toddler in the car. And off we went.

My one complaint with Lowell Park is that it’s not abundantly clear where you’re supposed to park. Not that this is a huge issue – this happens all the time in So Cal, so I’m used to improvising. I chose to park in the high school parking lot across the street.

The sledding itself was a bust. That part is due to how easy it is for me to get lost. I wasn’t clear what hill made this the “best sledding in the state”, so naturally I picked the wrong spot.

There was a part in the grass where the snow had been cleared, making it seem like a runway leading to the top of the hill. However, that path only led to the top of the hill, not left or right. Meaning I got a great workout from carrying a 30 pound toddler through shin-deep snow.

Finally, we reached the part of the hill where tracks indicated others had sled down. Then two less-than-desirable things happened. First of all, I put my son in the sled all by himself and, with a running start, pushed him down the hill. He was not a fan. He told me at the bottom of the hill, in an adorable little voice, “Too scary.”

Bless his little heart.

So we trudged half-way up the hill again. No worries. “Momma will go with you, okay?” My son agreed. Sweet. Okay. That’s when the second not-so-fun thing happened. My big butt sunk the sled and it refused to go down the hill. I couldn’t help but laugh.

I guess the snow was the wrong “type” of snow? This is a concept I’m still getting used to – in So Cal, when my mom took us sledding, the snow was always icy and hard. I guess that’s because it was warm enough to be close to melting. But this snow was fluffy and easily compacted with the slightest pressure. Maybe this is the kind of snow good for building snow people? Like I said, I’m still learning…

Source: https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/what-kind-of-snow-creates-the-best-sledding-conditions/335513

Using a rowboat maneuver with my body in the sled and my hands pushing the snow, I got my son and I to the bottom of the hill. I sang “Row Row Row Your Boat”, so by the end my son and I were both laughing at the silliness.

We trudged back to the car and regrouped. My son made the helpful suggestion, “Want playground.” Sounds good to me, I thought. In fact, there was a middle school playground only 2 minutes away. We’d passed it on the way to the probably-not-the-sledding-hill.

The playground at Lowell Elementary School is where the whole day turned around. My son absolutely loved going down the slides. And I was shocked he wanted to go down them himself. He’d always backed out of going down the big slides in the past. But maybe after the scary solo sled ride, this seemed more manageable.

Not shown – the 20 times he went down the slide after this first run, all by himself.

Honestly, we spent a solid hour at that playground. And it was the most fun I’d had since the weekend my mom visited Wisconsin over Thanksgiving. Watching my son climb the playground steps, traverse the bridge, scale the 3-rung stairs leading to the big kid slide, then go DOWN this slide – there’s no feeling like that. I remember when this kid learned to pull up to standing. And here he was, going down a giant winding slide all by himself.

What made this hour of play even better was how he wanted me to play with him. He told me, “Momma go down the slide” and even corrected me when I was going to use the wrong stairs, “right there, Momma, right there.”

At the top of the slide, I saw him standing at the bottom, arms outstretched like he was ready for a hug.

“I’ll catch you, Momma.”

And he did. He threw his arms around me when I got to the bottom and my heart just melted.

And to think I almost missed out on making these memories due to my bad mood and excuses.

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