With 16 kids ages 22 years to 18 months, my garage can tend to look like a bicycle graveyard. Bikes with training wheels, triathlon bikes, bikes with aerobars and computers and others that still have baskets and streamers.
Truly, our bikes say a lot about our family.
One Friday afternoon, I finally had time to take little 6 year old Crickie in the cul-de-sac across the street and work on teaching her to ride a bike. She was so excited. She had Glory French braid her hair so it would look just right under her helmet and even had a bow on to match her little t-shirt. After I worked for few minutes on teaching her to tie her running shoes, we made our way across the street.
She was anxious.
She had been wanting to learn for at least 6 months and I felt guilty that it had taken that long for me to find the time.
She put one leg over and looked expectantly into my eyes for some piece of sage advice that would help her get on her merry way. I looked at the bike and began to cry.
You see, I swear it was just yesterday that I had my little Blissy (now 19) on this same bike and tried to teach her to ride. I was suddenly overcome with emotion, memories, and tears.
The huge gauge in the bike from when Bliss ran headlong into the neighbor’s mailbox…the scratches from her going straight into a hedge…the child literally hit anything standing still every time she climbed on. To date, I don’t think there has been a race she hasn’t famously crashed and then triumphantly finished.
Damn these years flew by fast.
And here was little Crickie…wondering why her mother was crying holding the bike. I looked into those beautiful brown eyes and said the same thing I had said to Blissy 13 years ago…
“Look kid, you can do this. You can ride this thing. I’m gonna push you and you’re gonna pedal. Don’t stop peddling. You’re going to fall a few times. Maybe even crash and bunged bunged up a bit…but you just get right back on the bike and keep going…”
Now Blissy is home from university.
She’s a big girl.
She called home from school throughout her first year from time to time worried about things and asking questions. Struggling. Getting bunged up a bit and even crashing gloriously at times. Some of her stories made me laugh until I cry…some of them just made me cry. But none the less, I am proud of her that she keeps trying. Getting back up. Triumphantly and famously being who she is. What she is. How she is.
Because let’s face it…sometimes just keeping who and what we are in this big world is a struggle enough.
My three oldest girls are young women now. Succeeding and failing, making mistakes and learning. There are days where we all smile at some headway they’ve made in the world or celebrate some milestone or advancement…then there are the days that I wince when one of them learns a hard lesson or hurts because of an experience. In the end, if they follow the advice I gave Bliss so many years ago–vif they do like Crickie and just keep getting back up on that bike and peddling– they’ll make it farther down the road than I ever did.
And that will be a success in and of itself.