Conquering Mountains on Fire Bikes Without Stabilizers

Today, friends, we climbed a mountain. Well, not literally. But I am so proud of our little family for what we accomplished today.

It started as a balmy, quiet morning. We ate breakfast, started running laundry, and we began to talk about the day. Then Scott announced that he wanted to go to Dunham’s Sports Store. My ears perked up. I had been (not so subtly) suggesting that we get a new bike for Noah since April.

Now as you’ll recall, Noah has been crazed over wanting a dragon for weeks. I told him then that maybe we could get him a new bike without training wheels because it would feel like riding a dragon when he would “fly” across the driveway and down the road. He was very adamant that he did NOT want a new bike. The bike he had been using was our next door neighbors’ son’s. He outgrew it years ago and they very kindly gave it to us. Noah loves this bike. He has skidded over the driveway to the point that both tires are bald and are about to pop. And now his knees are over the handle bars when he peddles.

“I’m thinking maybe we can go to Dunham’s today.” Scott said looking at me but talking to Noah who was eating a bowl of cereal at the kitchen counter.

“What’s Dunham’s, Dad?” Noah asked.

“It’s a sports store. They have all kinds of sports equipment,” Scott said nonchalantly. I stayed silent for fear that Noah would catch onto us.

“Can we go, Mom?” Noah asked obviously not understanding what Scott’s intention was.

“Yeah, you guys can go to Dunham’s,” I said. “I am going to take Gracie to the grocery store later.”

“Yeah! Luke, we are going to Dunham’s!” Noah yelped into the living room. They ran and got dressed.

When Grace and I got home from the grocery store a while later, Scott was in the garage with his baseball hat on backwards, screwing Noah’s brand new bike together. Noah was helping by holding things in place when Scott asked him to and was very proud of himself for being such a good helper.

“Look, Mom! It’s a fire bike.” He pointed to the flames painted on the bars and showed me how the hand breaks worked. “And I got a new helmet,” he beamed shoving it on his head. Luke showed me his new bike and helmet too.

“Wow, guys! You look awesome! I can’t wait to see how fast you can go!”
“But Mom, it doesn’t have stabilizers. I don’t know how this is going to work,” Noah hung his head. I had to fight back a laugh. He has always called training wheels “stabilizers” although I have no idea why.

I bent down to him setting the grocery bags on the ground. “Noah James. I KNOW you can do this. You are ready.” I hugged him. He pushed me away.

“Mom. Don’t hug me, please. I have to think about this.”

“Okay, okay,” I said picking up my bags. “Call me when you think you’re ready,” I added over my shoulder.

I’m not even exaggerating. Twenty minutes later, there was a rapid knocking at the door. I flung it open hoping there wasn’t a skinned knee or elbow. Noah was drenched in sweat. “Mom! Come watch me! I can do it! Without the stabilizers!”

I ran and got the video camera in one hand and hooked Gracie on my other arm and raced out to the driveway where Noah zipped around the driveway like he’d been riding a two-wheeler forever. I pointed the camera at Scott, “Good job, Daddy!” Scott smiled. We reached another milestone today.

Tonight when I was tucking Noah into bed and asking him what song he wanted me to sing to him, he said, “Wait a minute, Mom.” Then he sat up and wrapped his arms around my neck. “Thanks for telling me I could do it,” he whispered in my ear.

“You’re welcome, angel. I am so proud of you. You did a great job today.” I fought a fierce lump in my throat and blinked back tears. Cool moms don’t cry.

“Can I ride my bike again tomorrow?” I nodded.

I know it’s not anything really newsworthy, but in our little world today, we conquered a mountain on a fire bike.

Worst Gift Ever

So I am not sure who invented “Morphix Playdoh,” but if I ever meet him or her, I am going to punch him or her square in the face. I have just spent easily twenty-five minutes vacuuming and mopping my floors to get all of the tiny “sand” pieces cleaned up. You thought regular Playdoh was a pain to clean? Just wait until you see this stuff. It is crumbly, doesn’t stick together and just gets EVERYWHERE.
If there is a kid whose parents you can’t stand, buy this set for them for the kid’s next birthday:

Crayola Create 2 Destroy Dino Destruction Play Set, Metropolitan Mayhem

It comes with three tubs of Morphix! Seriously, a terrible gift to really make a mother want to drink at 10:30 on a Wednesday morning. It got great reviews, but I am thinking the people who liked it live in a desert climate where their homes already have a lot of sand. There is no other explanation for it. Or maybe they have maid who cleans everything else in the house for them so this was no big deal. But I have other things to do! Like needing to get my blood pressure back to normal!

Crayola Create 2 Destroy Dino Destruction Play Set, Metropolitan MayheIt comes with three tubs of it! Seriously, a terrible gift to really make a mother want to drink at 10:30 on a Wednesday morning.

Before She was a Mother

Once upon a time, there was this girl who lived her life almost completely the way she wanted it. She had a responsible job with health benefits. But other than that, her life was on her own terms. She visited friends and went on road trips. She and her friends had grand plans for changing the world someday but not any time soon. They were having fun and there wasn’t any rush. They’d throw back a few drinks at bars on the weekends sort of wondering if they’d meet someone worthy of a serious relationship, but never really caring much if it happened. She spent any extra money on clothes and her social life. She went to at least a dozen concerts a year. She played softball for a work league. In her mind, she was content with life.

The idea of having kids was sort of in her periphery, though not really a priority. That was a million years away and something that happened for other (older and conventional) people. Besides, even if she wanted to have a kid, she had to meet the right guy and her last boyfriend had done a fantastic job of inspiring her to never want be in a serious relationship again and left her wondering if a conventional lifestyle was even something she wanted. Maybe marriage wasn’t her thing. She didn’t know if she was on board with being Ms. Suzy-Homemaker.

When one of her co-workers handed out invitations to parties selling Tupperware, or kitchen gadgets, she politely declined and couldn’t help but think, “You will never catch me going to or hosting one of those things.” When her friends with children talked about their kids, it occurred to her that she wasn’t that much younger than they were. Maybe it would be a good idea to start considering the possibility of finding someone someday…

…Then someday came.

Now here I am with three kids. I am a stay-at-home-mom. I make fancy dinners using my kitchen gadgets from Pampered Chef, present them on lavish platters from Southern Living, and put the leftovers in Tupperware. I have organizational bins from Thirty-one. I am a poster-child for these home parties!

And still it is so hard for me to let go of the person I used to be. I think I may have actually been “cool” or at least fun to hang out with about ten years ago. Scott jokes that I tricked him into marrying me. I used to drink beer and humor him by listening to country music (he forgets that I also teased the crap out of him about his musical tastes). But he even notices a change.

Obviously, this isn’t just an accurate portrayal of my life, but many women who choose to get married and/or have children. We lose a significant piece of who we are, at least for a little while. Sure, many women continue to work and keep that part of themselves, but there are always new things to add to the resume; Head of the PTA, Girl Scout Troop Leader, Birthday Party Planner, Block Party Organizer, etc. We do these things not because we like taking on the extra work or responsibilities or want to further forget who we are, but because we chose this life, so we might as well make the most of it and do something that will mean a lot to the people we do it all for.

Most days if you ask me how I’m doing, I will confidently tell you my life is fulfilled and that motherhood and marriage have enriched my soul and brought purpose I never knew existed before. But I do have off days when I am feeling sorry for myself and days when I cling to my past pretty hard. I will masochistically peruse Ticketmaster or grab a copy of MetroTimes and see that Foster the People is coming to Detroit for a concert on a THURSDAY night and I get so annoyed because the kids have school the next day and I have to be up at 6:00 a.m. to make their breakfast. So then I don’t go and the day comes and goes and no one knows any differently besides me. And that will be a bad day for me. I feel like I work so hard every day doing the same job, don’t I deserve a break?!

When I watch Scott put on his suit and tie for work I suddenly realize it’s been a month since I wore high heels or weeks since I last wore make-up. I wonder when did I start living my life for everyone else? WHEN DID I LOSE MY INDEPENDENCE?

So I fitfully lie in bed and dream of the easy days although in the dream, I am looking for something. And when I wake up, I am trying to understand why I feel a little hollow. And then I piece it together. This all happened because of my independence. This was what I wanted more than my life meeting my expectations every day. I chose to allow myself to fall in love and I chose to get married. I chose to have children thereby allowing the chaos; the possibility of my day not going the way I expected. This life is exactly my doing because of my choices. And then…
I am OK with it all.

I mean, these kids are pretty awesome to be around all day long. Way cooler than seeing Jack White or the Lumineers from the front row of an intimate venue or doing karaoke after softball on a Wednesday night and showing up for work Thursday morning with a splitting headache.  

And I will get to do road trips again, only it will be with my favorite people in the world; my family.