When I was married, certain parenting responsibilities just fell into traditional gender circles. I cooked. I did laundry. I grocery shopped. He set the sprinklers. He cleaned the yard. He killed bugs.
Now a divorced single mom, I had to let a lot of that stuff go. I've learned (kind of) how the sprinklers work. I change the smoke alarm batteries. I kill bugs. I fix stuff…or call people to fix stuff. The buck stops with me around our house.There is no "waiting 'til your father gets home". If I don't do it, it ain't getting done.
Nonetheless, I always thought that teaching my son to ride a bike would be his father's job. Don't know why, but just assumed that it would fall into the sprinklers/yard work/bug killing realm. But seeing as how I bought K a bike, which is at my house, and that my dad just helped me take the training wheels off, someone's got to teach this kid to ride. It was time for me to step up.
I was afraid. My own gender assumptions had stifled me to think that I wouldn't be able to do this, that my new found bug-killing skills wouldn't transfer to the bike-riding instruction department. But now, with my son looking up at me, counting on me not to let him fall and eat pavement…I had to put all that aside and focus. How do I teach my kid to ride a bike?
My dad was here the first day we took the training wheels off and explained to K, "If your bike starts leaning, you turn your wheel that way." Good one, Grandpa, great reminder. I wasn't able to verbalize that one. My natural instruction was more along the lines of "Pedal! Pedal! Pedal!" Good start.
But then Grandpa went home and I was left with a 4 year old, a big boy bike, and a sore back from running down the street stooped over holding the seat, the handlebars, and 43 lbs. of unsteady weight. But what were my choices? After some rest, and the tiniest of pity parties, I bucked up and told myself that we are going to do this. Period. He will learn to ride a bike. However long it may take, we. will. do. this.
And you know what? The very next time we set out sans training wheels, we did it. Mostly K did it, but I'm still claiming a major mommy victory. I overcame my mental block and earned the bragging rights and discovery that there is no feeling in the world like watching your kid ride a bike for the first time.
It can be summed up best in the words of the Nutty Professor's Mama Klump:
"Hercules! Hercules! Hercules!"
The look on K's face when he realized I was running alongside him, not holding on at all was an unforgettable moment that I will hold dear to my heart forever.
It's not every day that you chalk a victory up in the "mom is awesome" column. Most days just taking a shower or getting the kids to school feels like a victory. But it's in those moments of sheer joy when you see your child learn something new, or do something they (and you) doubted they could, that it's all worth it. All of it. (For the record, I'd like to stop peeing when I sneeze, but it's still worth it.) I feel proud of us. We both doubted mom's ability to get this one checked off the list, but now that he's up and riding, it's the sweetest victory of all.
-Diane Mizota, Host of This Week in M.O.M