I have written that parenting is like a family bike ride several times on this blog. Back in 2015, and again in 2016, and so it’s time for parenting is like a family bike ride, part 3 in 2023.

First off, our family bike rides have changed since 8 years ago! Sometimes our kids don’t want to come on bike rides, so it’s just me and Daddy O….that’s why there’s no picture of bikes in this blog post! I’m going with the flow, riding the waves of parenting.

A Little Push to Get Them Going

We certainly encourage our kids to try new things and get out of their comfort zone. It seems we have more conversations about scheduling and time management to help our kids understand the opportunities that they are adding to their lives. Compared to the days of training wheels and big wheels, we don’t do any physical “pushing” any longer. It’s all emotional and communication work these days.

Our kids are more independent these days. This includes going on school trips and activities without having me or Daddy O. along. Sometimes we’re not able to be at all of their activities, as we employ a “divide and conquer” approach (one parent goes with one kid) or in the case of some mid-afternoon competitions, we miss watching their event. It happens. And our kids are okay.

Instead of pushing, I find myself pulling back a bit, as they have become overscheduled with multiple spring sports and activities. We’ve had to say no to practices and some games when homework or other sports teams demand attention.

Back when Big Sister was in 5K, I was pushed to volunteer for an art program. Now almost seven, eight years later, I ran my final art session for The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai for Little Brother’s fifth grade class. I’m glad I listened to that push of encouragement all of those years ago and shared time with my kids classes learning about and creating art together!

My kids doing all of their things – baseball, discus, the art project I made for a class project, and band.

A lot of Work & Dedication Pays Off

Similar to learning how to ride a bike, our kids have learned that they can do hard things. Big Sister and Little Brother have played short-handed or with minimal substitutes during soccer games in rain, snow, and cold. They’ve attended practice after practice. Sore muscles, cold temperatures, and minor injuries have occurred. They have experienced the lows of losing and the highs of winning.

I hope this is building grit and their ability to deal with adversity when something doesn’t come easily. As Big Sister has learned in track, sometimes you don’t throw discus as far as you can. Sometimes throws go out of bounds. Conditions may vary. Win or lose, they are happy to be competing. Lessons from sports will translate into their lives as adults, I hope.

As fans and parents, Daddy O. and I continue to show up for them everyday. We do our best to help them learn and grow into smart, kind, hardworking young people. We like to remind them to help our family “team” by doing chores around the house and caring for Blaze, our ferret, daily. I hope our work as parents sets them up for success after 18 years at home! But really, your parenting work never ends, it just changes as they ride off on their own someday.

A Time to Let Go

My kids are turning the corner into adolescence. They don’t need us parents in the same way that they once did.

I often have asked Big Sister if she wants help talking with her teachers about homework and big assignments. “No, Mom, I’ll do it.” And that’s great. She needs to advocate for herself. I’ll step in when asked or needed. I’m doing my best to let go and let her find her way.

I’ve made mistakes too (and had to write her an apology letter when I knew I was being too hard on her). I’m glad we get extra chances to get back on our bikes and start again.

Similarly, my kids have more freedom to bike around the neighborhood with friends. They do well with less parent supervision. They have earned our trust…and sometimes break it. This is where patience in parenting comes in, and yes, I’m still working on this. For the most part, they are great kids! We’ve helped build a foundation, and so it’s time to let go a bit more, and watch them fly.

This point from a past blog post still holds true – 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!

Stay Together

During the pandemic, especially, we took regular bike rides after dinner as a family. We rode near a wooden area and often spotted deer, rabbits, and other wildlife on our ride. I hope we can squeeze in some family bike rides again this summer.

It is challenging to keep up with our kids busy schedules. Last night, we had a nice family dinner. I’m learning to appreciate those dinners more, now that they are harder to fit in.

Staying together will look like riding my bike fast enough to keep up – or more often than not, hoping in my mom-mobile and driving my kids to and from their activities. I take the time to notice and talk with them during that car time. It’s often some of the most uninterrupted time that we get together, especially when we’re grabbing dinner on the go.

As we ride through the adolescent years, I’m doing my best to be patient with them and myself:

  • so that we can stay together as a family
  • so that our home remains a place that they want to come back to
  • so that I can hold onto them a bit more before the phase of drivers licenses, jobs, and high school comes around.

Whew, don’t let me get too far ahead of myself! I need to enjoy our family bike ride in the moment before zooming onto the next part of the trail.

Cheers to the end of the school year and pedaling onward!