Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Like Riding a Bike...

In searching yesterday for quotes for the project I'm working on (that same one I was supposed to be working on a week and a half ago but managed to put off until now), I stumbled across a few that aren't right for what I'm creating but that resonated enough to add to my list of potentials. I needed to be sure I had them somewhere to refer to as an encouragement.

As I reread them just now, I noticed that they all speak to the tenuous and often paradoxical reality of parenting: the joy and the fear, the protection and the letting go, the pride and the insecurity, the excruciating love, and always, the need to be present in whatever state of competence or failure we happen to be in at the moment. As a mother walking blindly yet boldly into each day with my children, I appreciate an honest look at the challenge. It validates the work, the very hard work, I engage in daily.

It also reminds me of the proper perspective. Parenting is not about creating or making my children but about knowing them. It's about walking with them as they grow into this world, at times holding their hands, at times cheering from the sidelines, at times praying like crazy from a frightening, and lonely, distance. And miraculously, in the process of entering into relationship with them, I am made--and become more of myself than was ever possible before.


"It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself." -- Joyce Maynard

"In every dispute between parent and child, both cannot be right, but they may be, and usually are, both wrong. It is this situation which gives family life its peculiar hysterical charm." --Isaac Rosenfeld

"Most of us become parents long before we have stopped being children." -- Mignon McLaughlin

"The guys who fear becoming fathers don't understand that fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man. The end product of child raising is not the child but the parent." -- Frank Pittman

"You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around--and why his parents will always wave back." -- William D. Tammeus

"The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard." -- Sloan Wilson


We've all learned how to ride a bike, felt the fear and exhilaration from the perspective of childhood, sensed the swell of pride and anticipation as we forged this frontier of independence and accomplishment. But until we are parents, we know no more of how to usher our child into this new world than we know of winning the Tour de France. Point of view changes everything, and the phrase "Like riding a bike" takes on all new meaning for the parent holding on hopefully, expectantly, and anxiously from the back. All we can do is reassure with our presence, lend a hand for balance, and encourage wildly, "Pedal, Baby, pedal."

For a lifetime.

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