Groggy from another challenging sleep night, I mumble to myself, “I got this, day.” In the sometime stumbling of the morning, I set about to keep the steps going.
At the top of the steps, Ephraim smiles at me, with a hopefulness I can see in his eyes for Mommy to feel better. I nod to him and he nods to me. An I love you gesture for quiet mornings.
Kira calls to me from her room. She’d like a morning hug as she struggles with her own battle of getting up. I must try to push aside all doubt in my body to fill her with expectant joy for the day. She looks in my eyes, searching to see if I feel good today, but not asking.
This morning after they are dressed and fed and off at camp with lunch boxes filled with snacks and prayers, before I sit at my computer, I will ride my bright yellow bike in search of healing.
As the kids eat, I stretch in my flip flops and the tight cycling clothing that feels safe against my skin. Somehow the pressure reassures me in myself. I am a person going for a bike ride.
At only 7:30 am, the heat is already rising through the air. I breathe it in slowly, adjusting to its push against my lungs, and then releasing what pulls at me.
My daughter stands at the doorway of the deck, watching for a moment, I see her noticing the smoothing lines of my stomach, wondering. I wrinkle my nose at her. She giggles. Thumb up. Big smile. The olympian being she sees in me in that moment is beyond the clothing, the stretching and the ride ahead. She sees love. She lifts a camera to capture what she sees – for me as much as her, I believe – and I repeat her smile and thumbs up, inhaling their purpose, though forced they might be. I am loved.
Once they are at camp, and I’m staring down the lines and bumps of the roads, I do see that picture in my mind, edging me onward towards another mile, towards the roads with climbs. Watching the houses, woods and NY farmland to my sides. Balancing getting stronger and not over-doing it.
I know the tightness in my legs will ease if I relax my rhythm, find a steady cadence and let adrenaline and grit defeat fatigue, to try to store it for the night, to win a better sleep.
The smell of new pavement in the sun and passing of cars. Nods and waves from people in yards. My prayer handkerchief tied to me, pedals offered for others’ wins too. A hand I’d like to hold.
It seems these weeks and uncertainty have weakened me to somehow raise me up to what I just cannot quite see. Images and thoughts. Change. Discovery. Less sense. More just. In what has felt lost, perhaps was the very greater understanding of me. My body and mind will sort out, and I will remain acutely aware of the need for self-care. The cloak.
My phone buzzes, tucked in the case on my bike bar. I glance only to see it is not my children and ride on. On.
I check my pulse, my breathing. Drink. Shift up and down to try to even out a rubbing gear. Will myself well enough to keep it going. No solving. Just moving.
Sections of who I am. One whole person. This vulnerability has shifted me to strengthen me. Loved. I am still a rider.
Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Now.