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.