The Right Time

by flowers on September 23, 2009 · 14 comments

We had a family milestone this past week. Solshine learned how to ride a two-wheeler! He’s been painting the town red with his balance bike for the past two years and has been in no rush to move onto the pedal bike, but the last few times we’ve been out playing with his friends they all had their pedal bikes. His birthday is in a few weeks and I found the perfect sized first bike out for free in our neighborhood so we surprised him with an early birthday present.


Stone and I were really excited. It’s thrilling and nostalgic to watch your oldest reach these milestones and being that bicycles are such a big part of our lives (and such a great sustainable option) it doubled our excitement.

Sol, however, was hesitant. He was excited about the bike, but was very firm about us not letting go of the bike. Our enthusiasm seemed to only cause him to retreat in his attempts. He asked for a break and started changing the subject and didn’t want to talk about the bike at all. I realized how nervous he was, almost worried about what would happen if he tried and couldn’t do it.

Stone and I stopped. We looked at each other, realizing that it’s not much fun if he’s not having fun, so we changed our attitudes and let go of the outcome. Who cares if he didn’t figure it out right away. It was a great reminder to check our personal parenting expectations at the door and open ourselves to his needs and right timing.

We rode around some more with my hands firmly planted on the back of seat and I started telling him stories of when I was a kid. I remembered the scary feelings and the rush of excitement and I shared that with him. I told him I was scared to have my parents let go too, and I promised I wouldn’t let go until he was ready.

After a little while I noticed that even though I was holding on he was doing the balancing. I lifted my hand once quickly to show Stone he had it, but I realized he had just started to trust me and letting go would loose that trust. So I held on, even though he was doing it all by himself.

We went home and after dinner he wanted to ride up and down the sidewalk again and he asked me to hold him. We went up and down the sidewalk and I was faced with the mothering dilemma–

When is the right time to let go?

There is no black and white answer, only shades of gray. Let go too soon and I loose his trust. I didn’t want to let go and have him fall right away; I wanted to let go and have him feel empowered and excited. On the other hand, how long could I run after a bike, hunched over, not even doing anything, but for the sake of false security.

When it was time I just knew it. I felt confident and excited and sure of my decision.

I took my hand my hand off for a few seconds and returned it to the bike a few times until I was sure he was doing it himself. I let go and ran alongside him and he didn’t even notice for a few moments until he looked up and shouted with wide eyes he shouted, “I’m doing it!”

It was triumphant! Stone and I were reminded about the important lessons of checking our needs at the door and parenting with an open and intuitive heart; Sol hit a major milestone of childhood.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since then–how to know the right time for your children: when to start solids, leave them for the first time, night wean, let go of the bike….or leave them for five nights for a yoga training.

The answer I’ve come to is that you don’t know, until you know and when you know, you’ll know. It’s like how my mother told me I’d know when I found the right person to marry because I’d just know. It never made sense until I knew.

As far as the yoga training goes…..

It doesn’t sit right with me.

There’s no continuum.

It’s not a natural progression.

It feels more like a train rushing towards a car helplessly broken on the tracks. There is an inevitable crash and I can’t consciously make that decision to let Koala’s emotional experience be involved in that crash because I wanted to go to a yoga training.

Writing out that blog post and getting all your feedback, support and wisdom was so helpful. It gave me a chance to process and explore how I felt in response to all the comments. I think if the training was one or two nights I would be ready to give it a try, but this is too much too soon. Thank you so much for that.

Here’s the catch–saying no to the training doesn’t bring any relief either. Usually when the right decision is made it feels right, there is a certain sensation of relief and that’s how I know it’s the best thing, but it’s not here now.

So I’m opening myself to the third option. I’m not exactly sure what that is right now, but I am willing to trust that everything will unfold for everyone’s highest good. There doesn’t have to be a mama loses or baby loses ending to this story. We can all have our needs met, it just requires creativity and being open to ideas we haven’t even thought of yet.

One idea we have is to borrow a friend’s camper and the boys can adventure in the Berkshire Mountains all day and then we will meet for the evening and sleep together. Or we could rent a cabin. We’re not sure yet. This option is Stone’s idea and he is one hundred percent on board so I think there is a good chance of things working out.

And if nothing work out and I don’t make it, I do trust that everything happens in its own perfect timing–just like that first bike ride.

New Bike

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Trisha September 23, 2009 at 10:25 pm

I’ve recently discovered your blog and it’s really refreshing. This post hit home because all of my friends are potty training their kids who are my daughter’s age. I’ve given it a half-hearted attempt but just don’t feel like it’s the right time. I haven’t had the words to describe why we aren’t trying harder but now I do. And, kudos to you for not forcing a seperation your family isn’t ready for. I hope it works out that you are still able to go.
.-= Trisha´s last blog ..Promise you won’t get mad =-.


TheOrganicSister September 23, 2009 at 10:53 pm

I enjoyed reading this. I remember when I learned to ride my bike. My dad let go when he thought I was ready, rather than when I told him too. He stopped and let me go on and as soon as I realized he wasn’t there I fell. I love how you continued to run beside the bike. I think that enforced his ability, as well as the sense of security you gave him.

I love the idea of a cabin or camper! I think you guys are on the right track and will find the perfect option for everyone. :)

Congrats to Solshine for this new accomplishment!!

.-= TheOrganicSister´s last blog ..End of Challenge =-.


steadymom September 24, 2009 at 1:55 pm

You’re a wise mama.

.-= steadymom´s last blog ..Four Favorite Parenting Books =-.


Ruth September 24, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Yay! Quite a milestone isn’t it! Aren’t the balance bikes awesome from that transition in 2 wheeler bikedom, and they get it so fast! I’m beginning to realise that motherhood is full of these scenarios of ‘when is it the right time to let go’ lol. Imagine what it’ll be like when they fly the nest!
I have yet to ‘receive’ my award all those moons ago, finding the time to fulfill requirements eludes me right now…but I will! (^_^)
.-= Ruth´s last blog ..the wonder of our world =-.


Kate September 24, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Oh wow, Hill, I love this whole post. Just love it. And WOW! To Sol, what a big deal!

So funny how *I* breathed a sigh of relief at your decision not to go away for 5 days! Goes to show I’m not quite ready for that milestone yet myself. I love how you’re remaining open to a 3rd possibility. So WISE! :)

Love you sister,
.-= Kate´s last blog ..My Everyday Magic 9/24/2009 =-.


flowers September 25, 2009 at 12:29 pm

@Trish- Welcome! I’m so glad you found us and I look forward to following your blogging journey too.

@Tara- I’m really thankful for your feedback. I’m sorry your Dad let go. Hopefully we are healing those parts of our childhood as we change things for our kids. I totally get it.

@Jaime- You’re too sweet.

@Ruth- Great to see you around and thanks for celebrating with us!

@Kate- You made me lol that you breathed a sigh of relief. So glad we get to support each other through these early parenting years.

Thanks everyone. I’m really thankful for your participation.


exhale. return to center. September 27, 2009 at 1:43 pm

back from camp…catching up on all the posts i missed…

wow!!!! what a wonderful milestone. you captured it SO beautifully!!!


.-= exhale. return to center.´s last blog ..back from camp =-.


L.J. September 28, 2009 at 3:57 pm

I love how a milestone for Solshine becomes an opportunity for you to learn and grow too!

Thanks so much for sharing. I love your blog so much!
.-= L.J.´s last blog ..The Power of Motivation =-.


Devon October 4, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Yay Sol!!! You inspire me every day, Hills :)

The mama I work with/for hasn’t been away form her 9 month old twins for more than a few hours their whole life. She is fully breastfeeding, and very attached. I am there to pick up the slack around the house so she can spend as much time with them as possible!!

But, she just did a 3 day postpartum doula training in PA. We all went out and stayed at a hotel the first night, and the next day we brought the babies to her for some lunchtime boob and cuddles. She was ecstatic to see them and falling over them the minute she walked in the door, of course. But during the day, they were fine! Due to a lot of circumstances, we ended up going home the second day so she only saw them in the morning and got home after they went to bed. The third, she saw them for like 15 minutes in the morning and again they were sleeping.

Each day seemed to be easier for both them and her. They nursed a lot during the night, she gave them lots of love and cuddles, and she was gone for 11 hours both days…. I feel like out of sight, out of mind, played a part, but I also think the babies knew she was doing something really important for her that was feeding her soul, and they were happy about it. She still really missed them, but was so wrapped up in her new learning that she didn’t have time to worry about it. And they were with people who love them and care about them.

I am telling you this not to tell you to go and leave him, but that he may surprise you. And yo may surprise yourself!! I love the idea of the whole family going together and spending the days apart. I think he will know exactly what it means to you, and have so much fun with Dad and big brother that he won’t have time to miss you!

Hugs, whatever you decide xoxoxox
.-= Devon´s last blog ..Working Girl =-.


KMR April 15, 2011 at 10:33 am

I must have read this old post while browsing the blog at some point, and something triggered it in my memory, and I came back to find it and read it again, and it was just what I needed. We just started night weaning this week, for a few half-reasons and just to try. It’s not painless, but it’s not horrible, I think M is ready and she doesn’t need to nurse at night anymore in the same way that she used to, although she still wants to, especially in the confusion of being half-asleep in the middle of the night. I realized that I was reluctant to try until now, even though I was being advised to from different people (which almost worked to make me more stubborn about not weaning), because I was privately proud that we were still happily night nursing at 2 years (even though nobody needed to know). The decision to night wean surprised me by coming as a feeling, rather than as some kind of concrete reason requiring a change, like I had been expecting.


flowers May 17, 2011 at 10:35 am

I’m so glad! I think weaning can be especially tricky because we have so many emotions and when is the “right time”. I’ve been thinking about writing about my breastfeeding/weaning experiences since it is such a push/pull experience.


KMR May 17, 2011 at 10:55 am

Ha, talk about push/pull — since I wrote my first comment, M caught a cold that came with a painful cough and there was no way I could refuse her milk, coughing and crying in the middle of the night, so we’ve been pulled back into night nursing again while she recovers, and I’m not sure if it’s going to be easier or harder to go back to weaning again.


flowers May 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

You know I think the thing is that it’s not ever going to be necessarily harder or easier. Weaning is so not a today we’re nursing, tomorrow we’re not. It’s months (and even years) worth of one step forward two steps back and the two steps back aren’t counterproductive–they are actually important parts of building security.

And yeah–weaning during illness or teething just is never a good idea.

Thanks for the post idea.


KMR May 17, 2011 at 11:01 am

But also, I would really like to read about your breastfeeding and weaning experiences. Talking with other mothers about their experiences was really helpful and reassuring for me.


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