I wake alone, blurry eyes blinking open, feet on the floor before I even check the clock. I know it will say 630something. Long gone are the days when I’d wake slowly, without a worry in the world. I have approximately 20 precious minutes before the fast growing feet of one of my children will dance down the hallway. I make my way to the kitchen and fill the kettle with ice cold water. Still blinking the sleep away I fumble opening the medicine bottles, counting out the pills that keep me here. I take a few deep breaths and try to remember what the unfolding day holds. Today’s weather was predicted to be clear skies & lots of sunshine, a great day for a ride.
As the water begins to sing in the pot, I hear footsteps in the hall and turn toward my youngest child in his motocross pjs. He reaches out for his morning hug. I love this moment, and loathe it, as I know the questions will soon being without end and I haven’t even had a sip of warm brew. You know. What’s for breakfast? What are we doing today? Can I have a playdate? Why do the letters ph make the ffff-sound? When can we get a new puppy?
I wish parenting didn’t feel like such a contradiction. You love them more than you could ever imagine, and simultaneously wish you could hit pause & rewind to relive some of those days when you didn’t have to answer any questions before 8am.
As i’m pouring the coffee into my mason jar, my eldest child with her wild red hair makes her way down the hallway, eyes half closed.
I have breakfast on the table in twenty minutes, bubbling-hot hearty oatmeal with shredded carrots and cashews. We call it carrot cake and dig in.
I look at the empty space to the side of the table, the space that used to hold our beloved dog’s dish. I see a few last remnants of his kibble scattered on the floor. I’ll get to those someday….when I’m ready, I tell myself. While I’m tearing up, I clear the dishes and with a voice on the verge of cracking, I remind the kids that at 9o’clock we will be heading out the door for one of our favorite adventures.
Time passes quickly when there is a to-do list and questions to answer. I fill the water bottles and gather the snacks and help with sunblock and shoelaces. Dressed and out the door, we are greeted with a beautiful sunny morning with a hint of crispness that suggests the end of summer is right around the corner.
I shoulder a backpack full of snacks and supplies, and we hit the single track for as long as they want to ride, only turning around to head home when they say so. We love exploring trails both familiar and new. My youngest is 6. I remind myself of this every time we go for a mountain bike ride. I let him set the pace until he stops for a water break and asks for a tow. His bike weighs 1/3 as much as he does. If this was the same ratio I had to suffer, I’d be riding a 60-pound bike, which i don’t – not even close. I will gladly give him a helping hand, as long as it keeps a dirt eating grin on his gap-toothed face.
The trails we have to choose from are pretty much all uphill – right from the start, and for little kids, that means they get tired about 7 minutes into the ride. But I solo parent quite a bit, and i’m never satisfied with a 7 minute ride. Babysitters in this tiny ski-town cost a lot more than the Tow-Whee, so a few years back, I spent $50 on one of the best inventions a mountain bike loving mama could ask for. It has just enough assist to keep him from exhaustion, it extends our rides by many miles, and as a bonus I burn a few extra calories.
I tow my son for the next hour as we climb dusty hardpack single track under the hot summer sun, trying to keep up with my gritty bike-loving daughter. The grass that lines the trail is over her head. On the switchbacks above me I hear her call out “Hi, mommy” and I catch a glimpse of her blue helmet bobbing in the distance. The kid can climb.
We finish our ride when the sun is high in the sky, and I set sandwiches and fruit on the table as they stretch in the shade. It feels good to have our miles in before the afternoon heat starts to set in.
As soon as lunch has settled, the bickering starts up, so I send them back outside, reminiscing about the days where they’d play together for hours without so much as a fuss. “This too, shall pass”….I try to comfort myself with this saying, but it usually has the opposite effect. I don’t want these days to pass, but yet, I look forward to bedtime and maybe 30 minutes of quiet to myself.
After cleaning up, I join the kids in the backyard with a stack of books I recently picked up from the library. We’re two months away from a road trip. I’m depression-prone, even more so while mourning the passing of our doggie, and one of my self prescribed anti-depression devices is daydreaming about adventures ahead.
I love looking at maps and dreaming about high alpine lakes, trails, campgrounds and rivers to explore. Between loads of laundry and random parenting duties & distractions, I read up on the Cowboy Capitol of the US, the Gem State and the Black Hills.
The kids are getting along like the good-old-days by the time dinner rolls around, and I hesitate to call them in from their mud-kitchen play, but I know if I delay, bedtime will be late, and my 30 minutes will be halved.
I toss together a healthy dinner that only dirtied one pot, which is how I keep my mind young these days. 🙂 However, I somehow managed to use seven knives and three cutting boards, so I suppose I didn’t save myself from doing the dishes after-all.
We read Crinkleroot, Thornton Burgess, and top off the tank with a little Dr. Seuss, and the kids climb into bed as the stars come out. I sit in the comfy chair in their room as they fall asleep mid-question, their words trailing off into dreamland.
It was a good day. And I still have a few minutes before I turn in to enjoy the still of the evening. I wish the kids were awake to see how bright the stars are shining. Maybe I should wake them up to share? What do you think….
About Team Member Valerie:
Valerie is a homeschooling mama of two dirt lovin’ kids, ages 6 & 9. She loves spending time with her family outdoors & is a self-proclaimed bibliophile. Valerie and her family can be found mountain biking, canyoneering & scooping sand in Utah; skiing and building snow forts in Colorado; hiking & hugging cactus in Arizona; and hunting for singletrack, tadpoles & breweries in Oregon.