Mother’s Day was May 9, already long ago. Still, I don’t want to miss an opportunity to talk about a mother’s ability to influence a daughter’s life and lifestyle, particularly when it involves drawing a young girl into cycling.
Ten years ago, both my teenage daughters fit the mold of rebellion to the parent’s lifestyle. “Mom, I will never be like you”. Embarrassed too often by what I wore, what I said, these kids fought me on trivial issues. My response was to laugh at myself, wear the “right” jeans and belt width in their public, acknowledge they would do life their way, and bring their boy friends (no matter what) into the fold. Further, I simply lived the example I want to set for them.
“Do as I say, not as I do”, has never worked in parenting. “Do as I say and as I do” can work because at least it is honest. Saying nothing while engaging them in ” Do as I do” is motherhood by osmosis.
Fast forward to their late twenties. Catie and Ruthie are both starting businesses, exploring taxes, finance and serious, life influenced political thinking, and planning for commitments and families. They now seek out my counsel, selectively (not unilaterally) adopting my point of view and my methods in life; they get up early, attack their jobs with optimistic energy, persist in adversity, and figure out how to overcome life’s challenges. Oh, as a mother, I am now all powerful again. But I use this power judiciously because I know one false move and I’m screwed, with little age trending chance to regain credibility. I can be the obsolete parent deserving of tenderness and care, or I can continue to influence these wonderfully opportunistic, self improving and society contributing young adults. By leveraging their openness to at least some of my views, I invest in the future of our world.
Two years ago I bought Ruthie a bike. We started to ride together locally, and last year we rode the roads of Santa Fe. Ruthie now wears and swears by our Terry Bella Shorts. Gradually she evolves…riding in her neighborhood, riding the roads of the Champlain Valley with her mom, and even planning bike trips as part of her travels in the world.
Every weekend, when work allows, Ruthie now makes a plan to ride, sometimes with me, sometimes not. She absorbs what I get from riding; a resilient heathy weight level while eating and drinking whatever I want, an immersion in our natural surroundings to support an optimistic point of view on the world, and a fortitude to be content with solitude.
As Ruthie returns from a long sweaty run or ride, only to attack the next day’s agenda for her new business before going to bed, she calls me on the phone to say, “OMG mom, I am beginning to remind me of you”. What joy to know I’ve bred a budding cyclist because I know cycling will change her life, throughout her life, for the better.