When you and your partner are contemplating having kids, I think (at least for guys, I can’t speak for women) one of the biggest fears is that your life as you know it will basically end if you have kids, and not in a good way. After coming home from the hospital this fear seems to be confirmed as this little pink thing that never seems to stop crying sucks your life energy from you. You’re up at 3:00am feeding this little black hole, checking facebook to pass the time, watching posts appear in real time from old college friends who are posting photos of themselves at drunken parties. Your life is over.
Well, sort of. Your life will certainly never be the same, but as time passes, your new life starts to resemble more of your old one, and that is a great thing. By seven months we were taking Josie on a 3 day backpacking trip to the coast in Olympic National Park, and I think there I realized that as long as she was fed, warm and dry she could care less where she was, and we could do that pretty much anywhere. Of course this was during the golden period of travel from 4-12 months when they’re small, immobile, sleep anywhere, and have no will of their own.
But gradually, the bags and bags of baby stuff you feel you need to lug everywhere goes down, until one day, like tonight, you take a long walk and realize you don’t even have a diaper bag draped over a shoulder. As they become more independent and mobile after a year and a half you’ll find yourself comfortable letting them roam within the fenced yard as you cook dinner, pausing as the enchiladas are done, like I did this evening, to go out on the deck, scan the garden, and yell out to my half naked daughter in the sandbox, “C’mon Josie, dinner’s ready!”
But most of all, today I felt like I stepped back into my old skin because Josie has got a new set of wheels. Well, wheels that I propel, and she sits back in like the Queen of Sheba. Yep, thanks to Craigslist and a four hour trip last night to Federal Way, Josie has a Burley bike trailer, and it’s the ladybug version no less. I’ve gotten so tired of having to rely on the car to drive two miles to the beach on a nice day with her. You see, before I had a kid I was a cyclist. I put on over 4,000 miles commuting in Seattle over the course of six years. I rode in Critical Mass rides and still have a sticker on my bike that says, “Environmental bumper stickers don’t mean shit when they’re stuck to CARS!”. But since I moved out here my bike has mostly sat on its deflating tires collecting sawdust in the garage. No more. Josie and I went downtown this morning and picked her up a cute little pink helmet. After playing in the ladybug back at home for awhile we were off. From what I could tell she loved it, but just to be sure, we went down to the playground, making a pit stop beforehand at the ice cream parlor. Gotta create positive associations, right? I couldn’t be happier, and even though i certainly notice the weight, I also need the aerobic exercise, which has been one thing I’ve struggled with about parenthood.
Sure, I’m not setting any land speed records anymore, but neither am I trying to. Though, I must admit, as I was biking home I came up on a group of four high school kids goofing off on their bikes and as I passed them I took some satisfaction in doing so. I wanted to yell “You’re getting passed by a TODDLER!,” but I didn’t ’cause taunting teenagers these days can land a cap in your ass, literally.