The kids and I went for a bike ride today and all of a sudden it was as if my real life collided with my big picture life in the span of a moment. And it happened over and over for the next 30 min.
My real life would be that this was the first time the kids and I biked this year and the rules are different now. Last year Little was still in a buggy attached to my bike and Middle was on the one wheel attachment with Paul. Big would ride in the pocket between us. Everyone was contained and we could keep our eyes on each of the kids. Paul led the way, I brought up the rear and we were all good. Contained. Dare I say, we were in control?
Then somehow this year, everyone got bigger. Older. More grown up. Independent. And that means that life changes, rules are different. Little rides the one wheel attachment and both boys are free. It also means that we have the freedom to ride without Paul when he is at work. Our family dynamics have changed and we find that we are still a team but with different roles to play and different dynamics when we engage with one another.
Life doesn't stand still. Families aren't imortalized. We grow, we learn, we gain wisdom and fall in foolishness. We are human living in a world that requries we keep moving forward.
In my real life, I hadn't ever ridden with the one wheel attachment. Fumbling our way through, I almost lost Little because I forgot that she could get on and off the bike. I realized I had to actually check to see if she was ready. Before, I would just put her in, pile in her books and snack and we were good. I could stop and start whenever I wanted. She was contained and under control. Now the girl has freedom. And I'm not gonna lie, its a little unnerving. So after I almost left without her, then almost dropped her because I wasn't used to her unbalanced weight, we slowly took off.
That's when it hit me. I can't see my other two kids. I take the lead and they bike behind me. Not only are they biking behind me, because I am the one who sets the path, I actually have to trust my oldest to bring up the rear. Trust him. Trust that he knows the rules. Trust that he will be responsible. Trust that he will communicate when something is wrong and that he can recognize when that might be. That's when my heart start pounding and growing big with panic.
Once that thought hit me, I realized Little and I were tipping. I am used to carrying dead weight on two wheels while she sits tucked in a sturdy buggy. With the one wheel attachment, she can pedal and lean and the whole bike shifts. And she's only almost five so when she leans and panics, that means she over corrects herself to not fall and screams and panics and yells at me that everything is horrible and she can't do and we need. to. stop. now.
So I say in my most calming, I am not stressed out voice, "Little we are OK. You have to trust me that I will keep us safe. We have to do this together. If you feel like we are going to fall, trust that I can keep us going. We are team now and we can do this together. "
Middle chimed in that Dad gave him the same speech when they biked that way too.
As we biked along, I realized how quickly my children are growing up. How without even realizing it, they are learning things, growing in wisdom, and becoming real people. (Not that they weren't real before, but they becoming their own I guess in a way that I don't get to dictate or control.)
Next year Little will be going to full day Kindergarten. I will have my days free to workI and volunteer and take care of my family on my own schedule. My children will be living their lives at school apart from me, learning and growing and I need to trust them. I also need to trust that we are doing our job and they are learning from us at home as well.
Above all other growing pains I realized today, is that the rules are changing. They are getting bigger and even though they need to learn themselves in new ways, I need to relearn my role with them as well. So many pieces of their lives are out of my control and even though that truth has always been real, it is evident in more ways than our previous years of their young childhood. My role as their mother is not to see everything they do and control it, (though seriously I would beg for that to be the way because I have fiercely good ideas and have made so many mistakes, if they just did what I said, life would be so much easier for them.)
I ride along with them. I ride to encourage and guide back if they need it. I am there to tell them are OK. I am there to say, "You are not alone. If you need me, we got this." I am their support system. The place they fall back on because they overcorrected and made a mistake.
As kids get older, their personalities and opinions change. They shape their own ideas. They gain independence even though we live as a unit, they need to live on their own two feet. The rules change and its important as parents that we let them learn what that means. But it also means that our role changes as well. I need to learn to trust them. I need to learn that my job isn't to control everything but to guide, support, love and help when they ask.
I was thankful today for the physical reminder of what is emotionally happening in our household. Our bike ride reminded me that even though I have been clutching to hold on, I need to let go a little bit and just hold my children and our relationship gently so they know they can trust me not to overcorrect them in my parenting.
Our roles change as we grow. And as we grow, we change. I hope I can be patient with myself and my children as we figure out this space in our life. And if you find yourself in the midst of shifting roles and growing pains, I am with you. You are not alone.