The Bike

I hate that I’ve gone so long without writing, not because I have to keep some writing schedule, but because I enjoy it. Nonetheless, between school starting, a new part-time job, and all the other tasks that fill a mom’s day, I’ve struggled a bit. But here I am! My daughter turned five a couple of weeks ago, and I would be remiss to not write a post for her.

I was six when we moved from New Jersey.  Thanks to my dad, I was also terrified. I didn’t understand the humor in his joke that I would have to learn ‘southern,’ so I was already wary of this new place that would be called home.

The difference between these southerners and me was magnified every afternoon when the neighborhood kids took their bikes to the street. I had never ridden my bike in front of my house before, and I was eager to join this new group of kids, even if they did speak another language.

I sat in my pink mound of plastic, three wheels surrounding me, my knees bobbing close to my ears with each push of the pedal. The sound I made on the asphalt as I zoomed by was of a child going a hundred miles per hour, yet every other kid on their big bike flew past me with ease.

I remember the day when my parents took me to the bike shop, the day when I finally became a big kid. I sat on two wheels of glitter and purple, and I felt like a new person. I would no longer ride close to the ground; I would feel the wind touch my face like the kids who flew past me every day.

Almost 30 years later, I feel the magnitude of the moment, the rite of passage attached to riding one’s first real bike. The moment feels a little different this time, though.

I smile as I look on at that little girl who has become a little bigger, moving from four to five in what seems like overnight. No longer a preschooler, she joined the ranks of other kindergarteners a couple weeks before, and now she is ready to speed away in a flash of pink and peace symbols.

Yet when I look at this big girl, I still see the chubby cutie who would exclaim, “I running! I running!” while her feet barely left the ground in what amounted to not much more than a slow speed-walk. When the big girl before me who lost all her baby fat smiles, I still see the dimpled beauty with sparkling eyes who I held in my arms and squeezed close to my neck.

I smile at this big girl who is ready to feel a little bigger, to grow into her age five. I remember my own excitement, and I feel hers.

And I feel what the life of a mom is–pushing my children toward independence while my heart clings all the tighter to their little hands.

And now that I’ve thoroughly depressed myself, I’m going to wash a wet bedspread to remind myself that pushing kids toward independence is not a bad thing! Tell me about your first bike in the comments today.

5 thoughts on “The Bike”

  1. Hannah Grace looks so big in her bike picture! I don't remember my first bike–not entirely–though I do remember the boy from down the street that helped me learn how to ride a bike for the first time. He held the back of my seat and then finally let go. I remember running back down the street to tell my mom how I rode the bike by myself.

    1. How nice of that boy down the street! I can't remember the first time I rode successfully. I do remember the time I flew down my driveway and crashed into a tree in the neighbor's yard, flipping over the handlebars, and, of course, the few times I tried to ride my bike without holding the handlebars. I probably could've balanced if I didn't try to complete a turn, as well. 🙂

  2. Oh, this one makes me sigh. SO sweet. And they do grow up so fast. . .some days. And then there's the wet bedspread day… Missing you and glad to see this today. I didn't get a bike of my own until I was in the 5th grade – and I loved it. It was a full-sized cruiser – what is called a beach cruiser today, sort of cream colored with maroon-purple stripes. I loved it, loved riding with one hand on the handle bar and one hand casually on my thigh, like everything-is-under-control-folks. Maybe I ought to find another bike…hmmm…

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