Sunday afternoon I had the great honor of running along side my daughter, trying to keep her from falling off her bike as she shakily attempted to ride it for the first time without training wheels. Back and forth across the deserted black top she rode and I ran.
She did a great job. She never did manage to ride without me holding her up, but she tried over and over again, never getting frustrated or despairing, never asking to quit. We stopped, rested and started again. When she did manage to pedal a few times without me holding her so carefully, she was elated.
I was so proud.
And even though we left without that victorious moment when I let go and she rode away from me, a shiny new skill acquired, it felt like a parenting rite of passage.
I never gave much thought to teaching my kids how to ride a bike. It was not one of those parenting moments I was waiting to cherish. But in the end, it is something I will hold close and remember forever. Just like I’ll never forget the day she rides away from me without looking back.
I left the playground with a feeling of profound satisfaction, not because we had manage to get my daughter on her bike, but instead because I was reminded yet again how much more I like parenting these days, how it finally seems to fit me in many of the ways I expected. I always loved little kids, and caring for them was my job for over a decade, so I was surprised (and somewhat terrified) when parenting babies and toddlers was not the wondrous experience I was expecting. When, in fact, I didn’t seem to enjoy it much at all.
But in much the same way I sensed, when I was an unhappy teen and dissatisfied twenty-something, that I’d be more content as I got older, I guessed that parenting older children would fit me better as well. And I was right. Every year my daughter gets older and I enjoy parenting more. Now we can do all the things I was so excited to do together. Now we can share the books and the movies I couldn’t wait to read and watch again. Now we can have the conversations that make me think and feel profoundly. Or just laugh really hard at something hilarious.
I am thankful every day that I’m mostly passed the toddler years. My son still has his moments, and I have to remind myself a lot that he’s only four (he’s easily the size of a five or even six year old), but even he is growing up, and soon both my kids will be school aged, and life will be glorious.
Or at the very least, a lot more fun.
Which season of life have you most enjoyed?