A simple scribble today in my Book of Hours.
Today we attended a birthday party on an island in our city. The ferry docks are about a 10-15 minute drive from our house.
Yesterday I announced that we would be biking to the ferry docks which we have done on multiple occasions. After my announcement, and after every time I announce this for that matter, there is a collective groan. The bike ride takes about 45 minutes to the ferry docks and about an hour from the ferry docks to home.
Going there, we ride downhill all the way and coming home is an uphill battle.
They beg me to take the car. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a long bike ride. They claim that they need to train for this ride. They try to talk me out of it, “How about we do it at the end of summer after we practice with some shorter trips?” “My legs aren’t ready yet!”
They are already anxious about the “big hill” that they will have to climb on their way back after a long day of activity on the island. I simply respond, “We are riding our bikes tomorrow. Get some rest.”
Lying in bed, Ever-Patient turns to me and says, “Maybe we should drive. We’ve had a busy week. We are all a little tired. I really don’t want to deal with the whines and the complaints tomorrow.” I explain to him why it is important to ride our bikes to the island:
“They can do it. We’ve done it before. I am excited about doing it. I want to show them that I believe in them. I have faith that they can do this. It’s hard but it takes practice. I will take on the whines and complaints. I will accept them with a smile on my face and tell them that I believe in them and I will be there right beside them encouraging them like I always do. Sometimes you just have to sit and face the difficult and challenging times. Sometimes you are confronted with a ‘big hill’ or a seemingly insurmountable mountain that must be climbed to get where you want to go. Sometimes you will enjoy the climb and sometimes you will just have to accept that it is something that has to be done. If I don’t give them a chance to see how strong they are and what’s inside them, how will they know that they can do it?”
This morning’s weather wasn’t looking good. It was grey and chilly. The kids made another last-ditch attempt to try to persuade me to drive down to the docks. I said, “We are riding our bikes. Wear something warm and we might get a little wet. This is going to be so much fun! We got this people.”
Our ride down was a breeze. We happily discovered that the major street near our house was closed for a street fest and we rode down it with ease. Ever-patient took us on another route where the kids enjoyed a straight ride in a dedicated bike lane. It was only spitting and never really rained hard. We reached the docks in a half an hour.
But getting there is always the easy part. It’s getting home that tests us. Here we are waiting for the ferry. I can feel the anxiety level rising from the kids:
Inevitably, there are tired tears before we even get back to the mainland. Doubt and exhaustion overwhelm them and they are already anxious about “the big hill.”
When we ride our bikes, my husband leads and I take up the rear with the slower ones. It’s a tough ride for those little legs at the end of the day. During the ride, I point out things I see and ask her questions about her day or make jokes to take her mind off her tired legs. I tell them that we can stop as many times as they need to for water breaks and that it’s not a race to get home (although it was a race against the sun because I didn’t bring any bike lights).
We stopped for ice cream like we always do right before we tackled “the big hill.” We have different options of hills but the fact remains that we live at the top of one. As we finished our ice cream, we discussed the different hill preference of each child. We weighed the pros and cons of steep and quick hills over the longer yet steady inclines. Everyone is different. Some like to just get it over with and some like to take their time with it.
We decided on the hill closest to our home. It has a mix of a steady incline and a steep little hill at the end. When we came to the bottom of it, I watched how each of them approached this challenge so differently. One didn’t even stop at the bottom of the hill to take a breath. She kept pedalling and didn’t stop until she ran out of steam near the end. Another one set little goals for herself, “I’m going to try to make it to that car. And then I will try to make it to the stop sign, and then…” And another one was almost in tears the whole way up with me riding beside her saying, “You got this. I think I can…I think I can…” until she started to repeat the same mantra pushing herself beyond her limits. She stopped, wiped away the tears, and got back on that bike and pedalled hard once more.
After the last of the hills was conquered, we took a moment to drink some water and to catch our breath. One of my daughters said, “You know, I wish that I could forget the thought of the “big hill” before we even have to ride up it. I wish that I could just be. Focus on my bike and the air in my face and ride without thinking about it.” I said to her, “You just found the meaning of life my love.”
As we put the bikes away, my daughter turns to me. She is beaming and gives me a big hug. She says, “Thank you for pushing us to do this, Mama. I know that we can do it but sometimes we forget. I’m glad that you are there to remind us.”
100 scribbles…hurriedly writing the here and now.