A new bike!
It's big, and beautiful and bold, and, well, right now?
Just a bit scary.
Yesterday at the almost end of a glorious ride to the beach
saw a small girl on one side of a busy freeway crossing,
with her mama on the other side.
She just couldn't get started in time, and by the time I'd got two other kids across, there she was, like a little duckling on the other side of the river. Alone.
(and silly me; why didn't I have her get off the bike? Why didn't we walk? Ack)
It meant I had to wait the entire course of lights, 'til I could go get her and bring her safely back. Not long but sooo long…watching my girl as she wept on the other side.
When she got to me? Floods of tears, her helmeted head against my chest, crying and crying it out.
Well, I said, Let's get going again, shall we?
No! I never want to ride again!
Yes you do, I said gently, and turned her bike to face home (which wasn't far, but must have seemed so far to her). I knew she didn't mean it; I knew she'd be okay, and she knew she didn't mean it, and I suppose in that moment she trusted she would be okay too.
Because she rode home. (And cried a bit more. And walked, but only a little.) And then we talked, arms wrapped around each other, when we got home. About practising the things she is afraid of (like starting! Stopping! Crossing roads!) and about the things she had already accomplished (like riding a much much bigger bike! With gears! All the way to the beach and back!).
And somewhere in the conversation, she smiled, and we talked, together, of the next beautiful ride we'd go on, hopefully tomorrow.
Ah. It's a crazy life, isn't it? You teeter between fear and faith, always.
We're all trying to find a path through, aren't we. From accepting fear, then going ahead anyway, trusting, somehow, that we'll be okay. (That is, if it's not entirely crazy to go ahead—like jumping into alligator-infested waters. Don't do it!).
You want to be able to say, I am afraid (and be heard, comforted, held). And then keep going. Somewhere in the fear-fueled pool of you, you really do want to let go, and risk Everything. Because the reward when you do?
Wind in the hair! Speed at your feet, the path whizzing by! And one day? Arms outstretched and flying.
I feel fear every day. I do. It's not easy, being an often wobbly, always sensitive person who could easily lie down in the face of all the things I'm afraid of, taking on the persona of the Strong, reliable Mama.
It's amazing they buy it, so much of the time.
Sometimes, in the spirit of solidarity, on a hard and afraid day, I fess up. I say, Guess what? I am afraid sometimes, too.
But I only fess a little and I don't go on, because the truth is,
there's a worry person inside me always.
She's tiny but tenacious. She says, But how do you know it'll be all right? How can you make sure everyone is always safe? What if it all goes wrong? What if? How? What if? When? What if?
My worry self tries, sometimes, to rise above the rest of me. Cheeping, bleating (and sometimes, on Big Worry days, roaring). If I was to let that self take hold, I'd probably just stay in bed forever, and order in.
I wouldn't be much of a Mama and I wouldn't have much of a life.
So in the worst moments, I march in on my worry self and say, That's enough now. I have to be Firm and No Nonsense, then. I shut the door tight and hard, put a chair against it, to stop the worst fears from sliding back in.
And then? I live.
I've tried Firm in the past with my girl, on her worst worry days. I've said, Stop Now, and That's Enough.
It doesn't work.
It doesn't fit her (or the Mama I want to be). It can only fit if she says the words. And she isn't ready yet.
She is my little girl, still. She still needs my arms, my closeness, my voice saying, I know it will be all right because of reasons A, B, C, and D. (And E for good measure.) I know it will be all right because I am here, protecting you.
She might need my protection for a while.
But I hope that one day, when she is facing her fears by herself, she can be brighter and lighter than I have been sometimes. And kind and patient because fears come to grown-ups too. And she will walk boldly into new things, in her own brave light, because that will bring her so much joy,
just as it has for me.