Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Taking Off the Training Wheels

It's sweltering. The sun is shining hot in the sky. We pull into a shaded spot. Little feet hop out of the car, excited with anticipation. A few minor adjustments and the little girl climbs onto the seat. Feet on pedals she trusts her Daddy to hold her steady. And just like that, with a little nudge and a balancing finger on her seat she begins her first ride on her bike without training wheels.

First time's the charm she yells to her Daddy, "Let GO!" and off she rides, smiling confidently. Daddy jogs beside, ready to lend a helping hand. She's a daredevil, that one, and she is not afraid.

So many things running through my mind, the least of which is how glad I am that Daddy is here to jog alongside on this hot day instead of me. I watch in awe, videotape the event, take lots of pictures. This is a big day! And it's a beautiful thing to watch.

She's growing up. She needs us, but she doesn't need us. She can do it, but Daddy's right there in case she falls. After a few laps he reminds her how to use her brakes and how to put a foot down. She goes very fast and practices slowing down. She's getting it!

Doesn't take long for my sweet girl to start riding off curbs, shouting in excitement, "I love BUMPS!". Now who does she take after?

This is the first of many milestones. And she's our baby, our little girl. We are proud and excited for her!

I see her glancing over her shoulder to make sure Daddy's following behind. Big brother cheering her on, "Way to go, Ellie! You're doing great!" She hollers to make sure I'm seeing this. I wouldn't have missed it!

These are the moments we live for as parents. Opportunities to nurture, teach, encourage, and practice. But they are also bittersweet. For all the times in my day to day with them that I wish for a moment I could just sit on the couch and read in peace. Or to make a meal without having to stop to referee an argument or bandaid a scraped knee. And we enjoy the summer, the swimming and the vacation, knowing that before we know it school will be here and my little girl starts full-day kindergarten. And I ask myself, "When did this happen?" and I wonder if I'm ready (not if she's ready, but am I?).

When you wake up in the morning and drag yourself out of bed to make breakfast. When you have a bad day and long for peace and quiet. When you wonder "how did I screw up my kid today?" because you lost your temper or were impatient with them. Let me remind you that you aren't alone. That every day is not a successful parenting day (does that even exist?). When you look down at your Momma body and yearn for what used to be. When you have a date with your husband and wish you just had more time together. It's okay! You aren't the only one. Even the "isn't motherhood so wonderful?" Mommas know there is another side. It is not all well behaved, giggly-happy, obedient, dry diaper days. We all wonder sometimes if we were cut out for this?

But on the other side of the challenging days and moments of self-doubt there are "riding without the training wheels" days that let you know that you are doing okay. That your children are happy and content. That they trust you and need you, even if it's running alongside them instead of still holding on. And one day they will ride off alone and you'll be standing under the shading tree waving proudly, encouraging them to soar, knowing their Heavenly Father will be there to catch them when they go over the bumps!

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