21 September 2010

on bicycles and mothering.

i take a book out with me, and a lawn chair, but they both sit abandoned at the top of the driveway. elle calls to me, a mix of happy nervousness, hauling her bike from the cobwebs of the garage.



even flanked by training wheels she's wobbly, but today she wants to do this. so i wiggle tight the straps of her borrowed, too-big helmet, and we practice pushing back on the pedals to brake.



can i go already? she says. and i nod and remind her to stop at the end of the driveway.



gravity and pluck and a bit of pedaling carry her to the edge of the street. she turns a narrow half-circle, then hits a sunken part of the drive that makes her back tire spin out from beneath her training wheels.

she calls me again, and i nudge her bike out and then show her how to hop off and push so she can unstick herself in case i'm not there, but she has already dismissed this advice. i'm always there.



we circle around and she gives me a smile, newly confident. i'm going again, she says.

elle starts off across the pavement, and i watch her spin away, outgrowing me.

and in all the unsolicited advice i've been watered with over the years, i don't recall anyone mentioning this, that parenting would be riddled with emotional dichotomies: quiet pride mingled with loss, how my insides are bereft and yet rejoicing.

it's my job to make myself expendable, peripheral. to teach them to unstick themselves without me. and somehow, stripped bare, dusted with grace, we survive even this.



tuesdays unwrapped at cats

17 comments:

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

Well, I have missed your voice.

And Elle is just pie-perfect.

Sugar and Spice Mommy said...

Precious! Reminds me of my daughter on her "big girl" bike!

deb said...

I had a very peripheral weekend.

so this was good.

brianna said...

You've put words to the feeling that heart is going through lately as I help and watch my kids grow. Thank you. Beautiful post.

Dana @ Bungalow'56 said...

I've been feeling this acutely over the last few weeks as my eldest passed through the doors of high school for the first time. She is doing well, but part of me wants to walk down the halls with her. Like you though I need to trust the training wheels and allow her to learn to ride the bike on her own.
Dana

dawn said...

beautifully said--the mixed emotions of motherhood. I am at the point where there are days I'd wish the teen years would fly by--but what is on the other side of the teen years? I shudder to think of the day she leaves.

incidentally, when my daughter first learned to ride without training wheels she could turn left for some reason. I'm thankful for the cul-de-sac we live that allowed her to ride in circles for a whole summer!

emily wierenga said...

oh, i know, and my boy is only 10 months, this bereft yet somehow filled feeling... this watching them outgrow us and wanting to scream yet somehow applauding their efforts... so utterly raw. so very spiritual. nic, you word in a way that makes me want to write... thank you. e.

Denny said...

"to teach them to unstick themselves without me" is a great description of parenting as it should be. That is why I had more joy than grief as each of my kids grew and finally flew into adulthood. Fortunately they still occasionally ask for help in getting unstuck, but I think that may be more for me than them.

Kimberly said...

Once again you prove that the only thing more gorgeous than your pictures is your words. Such a poetess...that was raw and resonant.

lulu and family said...

so. well. said. love that texture effect on the first shot.=)

Danielle said...

Well said! Motherhood is truly riddled with such dichotomies...such a blessing, yet so difficult!

sarah said...

we are at gramma's at the moment and here we get to ride bikes in the house!!! around the kitchen table!!! we did it as kids too since we are in the country and grass and gravel and not the nicest for smooth training.

also, when i clicked your name from your post it brought me to your profile and used to use the words "stinky cheese" if ever i needed some strong words. it is a good book.

any way, thank you for pointing me in the right direction with some great shoppes. i am having a hard time finding local stores that carry the things i want.

love elle's bike! xoxo

Kaycee said...

Oh my. Yes. So very very yes. The whole last section? Quotable, poetic, and SO true. Thanks for putting my feelings into words today. This post was beautiful.

lulu and family said...

so. well. said. love that texture effect on the first shot.=)

emily wierenga said...

oh, i know, and my boy is only 10 months, this bereft yet somehow filled feeling... this watching them outgrow us and wanting to scream yet somehow applauding their efforts... so utterly raw. so very spiritual. nic, you word in a way that makes me want to write... thank you. e.

Sugar and Spice Mommy said...

Precious! Reminds me of my daughter on her "big girl" bike!

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

Well, I have missed your voice.

And Elle is just pie-perfect.