I bought myself a bike this week (oops, I mean my children bought me a bike for Mother’s Day.) I haven’t owned a bike since I was probably 10, and I can remember exactly the last time I rode one 17 years ago. We had a family reunion in the mountains and went on a bike ride where I was stung by a bee, and then later, another bee. I remember guzzling Benadryl because I’m allergic to bee stings, and my husband remembers my stranger than usual sleep talk as a result of the Benadryl (“Bob Roberts. Rob Robertson? Bob Rob Roberts…”). I don’t blame the bike for the bee sting – I blame my sweet husband (at least for sting #1) who, in an effort to helpfully brush the bee away, actually made it so angry that it stung me. Although my pain that weekend wasn’t related to the bikes, somehow it’s all tied together in my memory and apparently the sting still lingers.
I never really missed owning a bike until my kids were old enough to have their own and wanted to go on longer rides. Every spring for the last nine years, I’ve suggested that my husband and I buy some bikes but we never have, partly because we’ve felt pressure to get a good bike, one that won’t embarrass us in front of our cyclist friends. Also, summer is the time of year when my paycheck is cut by 75%, so it’s not the best time to shell out a lot on something we’re not even sure we’ll use very often. Then there’s the whole bike trailer/child seat issue, since we had younger kids we needed to drag along with us. Plus, having to deal with tire repairs far from home, having to wear a helmet in a town where almost nobody wears helmets (or seat belts, for that matter), and worrying that while I’m on my bike, one of my children will wander into traffic…
As usual, I was overthinking things. I talked myself out of getting a bike again and again so summer after summer has gone by with us missing the chance to go on family outings and now I have this big fat item which needs to be checked off of my big fat list. Here’s why I decided to just go buy an inexpensive Huffy cruiser, conveniently summed up in those lovely flowery Facebook memes I usually just scroll past:
“Done is better than perfect.” I remind myself of this often when I’m cleaning, weeding the garden, or trying to cram in some exercise each day. There’s no shortage of advice out there on the Right Way to do something, and sometimes I let that get in the way of me doing anything at all. But I finally decided, who cares if someone thinks my tangerine cruiser is lame? I’m not buying it to impress anyone – I just want to do stuff with my kids, and this will serve the purpose just fine.
“Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Take the moment and make it perfect.” If we had waited for just the right time, financially and career-wise, to have children, we still wouldn’t have any. Same goes for a lot of trips we’ve taken and experiences we’ve given our kids. That’s not to say we should do whatever we want whenever we want and go into debt to do it, but there’ll never be flashing neon lights giving us the go-ahead. Sometimes we have to decide to act and then just go for it. This also applies to the smaller day-to-day things. If I waited for all my other demands and priorities to part like the Red Sea and leave a clear path before I exercised each day, I’d never do it.
Yes, wearing a helmet to ride half a block with my preschooler looks like overkill, but I want to model for him that just like we buckle up every time, we have the same expectations for helmets. Our family has seen first-hand what a head injury can do, so we’re trying to do whatever is in our power to protect our boys’ precious brains, which might possibly be their most attractive feature. I also should mention that my very stylish sister gave me her old helmet and she has excellent taste, so I probably look quite chic cruising through the neighborhood, thank you very much.
I still haven’t had time to go out for a long ride yet, but on Saturday after my middle two boys changed their inner tubes and my youngest pulled out his new birthday bike, the four of us went on a short ride. I rode slowly next to my preschooler as the other two zipped past, went around the block, then zipped past again, shouting, “This is so fun!” None of my sons told me my bike wasn’t fancy enough or that my helmet made me look like a square, and if any of my neighbors were thinking it, let’s face it – they were probably right. But the best part was that I didn’t even care.