Friday, May 03, 2013


That took you 30 minutes instead of 10. 
It's already 5:00 -- dinner time and bedtime.  we can't go NOW.
I've been sick all week and you haven't once been nice.
We are going THAT way, down that huge hill in the street?
We are going THAT way on that bumpy path through the woods?
We may as well just take this helmet right off her because it's doing nothing.

You didn't lock the house??
Well, it's just too late to go now.
It's rush hour on the bike path -- the kids are going to get killed by speeding bikers.
Maeve hasn't even napped all day -- she's done.  I'm done.
We don't even know if the brakes work well on this old bike -- they are probably going to go out.
I can't even change gears on this -- the bike is broken!
How old is this bike?
These zip ties are NOT going to hold the bike seat on -- look, it's so teetery.  It's going to throw my balance off and we're going to crash.

Oh ugly,
on and on.
There in that last statement, of course, was the fear: that I was going to crash with Maeve on the back of my bike and hurt her.

Oh how we bury the heart of things.

Yesterday we took our first family bike ride.
Ben set to work to attach a bike seat (which, yes, took 30 minutes instead of 10 and did involve "tools" and zip ties...) while everyone gathered helmets and shoes.  It was my first run on my new bike that Ben had given me for my birthday (that yes, he bought of craigslist, but appears to be perfectly lovely and is butter color -- appropriate all around).

It isn't that I haven't biked before -- I have, even hundreds of miles to North Carolina, once -- but I have never biked with a baby.  I never crash but even when biking alone I almost crash a lot, weaving between telephone pole and brick wall or between cars at a red light.
What would happen with Maeve in back?  What if I did crash?

I know myself well enough to know that I don't always rise to the occasion: once, Max let me drive his motorcycle.  I rode behind him to a big parking lot where after a careful lesson, he let me try to ride it, myself.  I crashed.  Crashed!!!  I smashed the huge heavy piece of machinery onto the ground!!!!

This thought crossed my mind as I started to pedal, arms rigid, still spewing black smoky words into the air -- too fast, too slow, cut off.  And the front tire wobbled.  I coached myself -- breathe, gulp the air, you can bike, look at the leaves, watch Eden riding so proudly behind Ben, pedal, breathe.  But it stayed -- the fear -- and the negative words kept tumbling out.

Silas zipped ahead as he does.
Ben and Eden hit stride.
I relaxed my arms and the bike stopped shaking.

Maeve started to cry.  The helmet, one of Eden's (!) had tipped to cover her entire face (safety first).  So I stopped and propped it back up.  She smiled.  She, this baby I love, was the one on the back of the bike, and this right now, was her first bike ride.  Whew.  We smiled at each other and I climbed back on.  The start up was the hardest -- finding my balance.  A dog walker on the right, two bicycle flying toward me on the left, a dinging behind me for someone to pass -- breathe and keep pedaling.  

Maeve cried again and as we stopped, Ben and Eden disappeared around a curve ahead of us.  I took the helmet off all together and pushed off.

They were gone -- Ben, Eden, Silas -- somewhere way up ahead and hadn't even stopped.  I could feel the anger start to rise -- this is supposed to be a family bike ride, they didn't even look back.  I turned off onto a smaller path I thought they'd taken, and found myself alone with Maeve.

The day was so bright and clear it was almost abrasive, sunlight making the new-green glow.  I started to talk to Maeve.  Suddenly the thousands of leaves above our head rushed and blew -- cleansing.  I breathed and heard Maeve gasping in the wind. Slowly that nippy anger -- the fear -- started to slough off.

We didn't find anyone else, but the creek sparkled and Maeve yelled each time a dog barked as if she were answering.  We thumped over a wooden bridge and wound our way back to the big path, where there, twenty minutes later, somehow Ben, Eden and Silas were just pulling up.

I didn't say sorry, but I didn't say anything, which must have been loud (and welcome).  Together we bumped back through the woods and home.

No comments: