Thursday, July 19, 2007

Learning how to ride a bicycle

I'm not sure how old I was, but I know I couldn't have been much older than six or seven years old. The way my mother tells the story, she has never seen a child with more determination in all of her life, who came home dirty, bloody and thrilled with the fact she learned to ride a "big bike" with no training wheels.

It was summer and I didn't have a bicycle of my own, but my neighbor, Angela, who came from a large family, had an old blue bicycle that was just leaning up against the garage. It was the perfect size for me. I didn't have to bring it up to the steps so I could get on it and I knew that once I was on it, I could control it and not kill myself. So, I got this idea in my head that I was going to learn how to ride bicycle that day. Without training wheels.

So, I set about my task by going out into the middle of the street, down far enough that we were not visible by the picture windows of either of our houses. We would have been in BIG TROUBLE for playing out in the street, by both of our mothers. We kept to the side and tried to make sure that we wouldn't get "run over" by any cars.

Angela tried first, after all, it was her bicycle. She couldn't get the pedals going fast enough and fell. She didn't get hurt, but she got up and handed me the bicycle. She held onto the back of the seat to steady it as I got on and I tried to steer and over corrected and fell. I scraped my knee. Not bad, but it stung. This went on and on for hours. Angela finally gave up, she was tired of falling off, so she helped me in my quest for success. Finally, just before supper time, I did it! I pedaled. I steered. I even turned around, pedalling and steering and...I DIDN'T FALL OFF!! Of course, I nearly killed myself jumping off the bicycle to hug Angela and to celebrate my victory! But the fact of the matter is, I did what I set out to do. It hurt, it was painful, but I didn't give up, no matter what.

I thought my Mom was going to have a heart attack when she saw me, but I hurried up and told her I learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels and to come out and see. I demonstrated on the sidewalk out in front of our house.

I know she cried. She cried because I did it myself. She cried because I had to go through all of that pain and hurt to accomplish what I did. She also cried because it was one more small step away from me being her little girl and becoming a grown up. I know that because when my son learned how to ride his bicycle without training wheels, I cried for all of those reasons.

Why do I bring this up? I am 38 years old, and in a way, I am learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels all over again. My definition of myself is changing. I'm not just a woman, a daughter, a mother, a girlfriend, a sister, a human being, but now I am embarking on a new chapter in my life that will add business woman, entrepeneur, writer, copywriter, motivational speaker and I hope, teacher to my list of definitions.

I'm scared, like I was that day, but I am also determined to succeed. And I will be so proud of myself, pedalling down the road or the sidewalk...scabbed knees and all.

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