This morning we had a family bike ride (well, sort of because I walked while the kids rode their bikes).  I have to walk along with the kids because they occasionally need a push to get them up a hill. As I gave my daughter a push to help her get started on her big girl bike with training wheels, I began to think that parenting is so much like this family bike ride.

Moments after giving my daughter a push, I heard my son squeal in protest because he couldn’t peddle fast enough to make it up a gentle slope. I raced up to him to give him a little push to keep him moving.

“That’s enough,” he cried, when he was ready to peddle again on his own.

A Little Push to Keep Them Going

Isn’t that what we do as parents?

We give just a little push to help start that forward motion. My daughter is tentative and cautious – both on her bike and in new situations, and so I give a gentle push to help her start moving. It’s just like a gentle hug and word of encouragement before she runs off to a new class, which very soon will be five year old kindergarten. (WOW!)

A Time to Let Go

Similarly, we have to let go after that initial push sometimes, and our kids will definitely remind us to let go, just as my son cried, “enough,” when he was on his way. The act of letting go is certainly more difficult than pushing. A parent’s natural instincts are to hang on and protect their children. I’m starting to see that I need to let go, to let them peddle extra hard on their own to climb the hill. They are getting older, more self-sufficient, and much more independent even as almost four and soon to be six year olds. There are more and more times when I can let go and allow them to figure things out on their own. And yet, there are still times when I hear “Mom” being yelled out, so I know that I’m still needed.

More Biking / Parenting Parallels

Our bike ride took us to the farmer’s market, where we purchased some awesome veggies, jam, and peaches. I loaded up my backpack with our goodies, and then we started to head home. My son was just taking off, speeding away on his pink & purple big wheel.  I yelled, “Wait!” while looking over my shoulder at his older sister, who happened to be walking her bike at the time.

My realization was two fold:

  1. My kids have rapidly turned the corner of baby – toddlerhood.
  2. My kids will not always travel or grow at the same speed, so I’ll have to meet them where they are, sometimes racing to catch up or encouraging them to keep going!
Kids on a bike ride
Here’s my view – my two kids speeding on ahead!

I found myself speed walking to keep my youngest in sight, and forced him to wait for us before turning the corner. When we were all together again, I explained, “We need to all stay together.”

Stay Together.

After crossing the street together, my kids managed to race on ahead. I felt weighed down by 8 ears of corn, jam, and peaches that I carried on my back, and I couldn’t keep up. I asked them to wait, and they finally did, so I could still keep them in sight.

I can imagine my parenting evolving in the same way – not being able to keep up with my kids, but still being together and watching them as they ask me to “let go” and give them more space. Perhaps the key to staying together is lacing up my running shoes or getting on my own bike, so I can pick up the pace and enjoy the ride together.