Yesterday I went over to see Eva Cate ride her bike (without training wheels) for the first time. Actually it was the second day for her… she finally got up the nerve Saturday to give it a try (again) and this attempt was the charm.
All summer the bike had been in the garage (training wheels taken off) waiting for her to learn to ride it…It was the summer for this goal. But after a few initial “painful” falling down attempts Eva Cate got scared and wouldn’t try again.
She just had to wait until it was her time to fly the nest and Saturday, August 26 was that time. Don’t we all remember that feeling of success when we realized we could balance a bike without falling off? The sense of freedom that comes with first learning to ride a bike, is a fore-taste of all the different freedoms we will experience in our lives.
Eva Cate just experienced a childhood rite of passage without even understanding it now. She will later… when she looks back on the day she learned to ride a bike. This is just one ‘small’ step towards personal independence that will carry her through adolescence and adulthood.
Other events like going to the movies with friends without parents, overnight sleep-overs, camps, retreats, school trips, fifth and eighth grade dances, proms, sweet sixteen birthdays, graduations, and leaving home for college/work will all complete the sequence of steps leading our children and grandchildren to self-independence. (And oh…it goes too fast!)
Eva Cate also doesn’t realize it yet…but she is following in an historical Women’s Movement that Susan B. Anthony recognized as one of the most important: “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”
Think about it…for the first time the bicycle offered women, stuck at home all day, the opportunity to travel freely around town…what a sense of freedom that must have been! Consider, also, the impact it had on women’s clothing.
Article: “How the Bicycle Changed the World for Women” Shelby Erdman
“It was extraordinary. It affected the way women dressed, women’s sense of themselves, women’s ability to travel beyond the confines of their homes,” Macy told CNN Radio.
For one thing, the layers of heavy petticoats and wide crinolines had to go.
“When they started riding bicycles it became clear that this wouldn’t work,” Macy says.
“The petticoats were getting caught in the spokes. Women were really getting injured just because of the clothing they wore. So quite quickly alternatives to the way they dressed were introduced. They were no longer wearing such heavy clothing.”
Macy said the petticoats gave way to the bloomers, the puffy underpants worn under skirts. Even with the bloomers, though, women weren’t riding for speed or to get somewhere at that time.
Beth Emery is a biking teacher in Connecticut. She’s also a historian on women’s athletics. Emery said women weren’t really riding in the way that biking is thought to today because biking at the time was mostly about being out and being seen.
“It was like parading around and part of getting the fresh air and exercise,” says Emery.
In my first blog post back on November 25, 2014, after taking a haitus between Chapel of Hope Stories I and II to consider whether it was time to stop and try other writings or stand firm and continue with what gave me so much joy…I placed a picture of Rutledge on the cover ( he was a little over one year old and terrified of hair-cuts back then)…to start off the new blog with the comment…“One of the hardest things in life is knowing when to ‘cut your losses’ and start over or follow your intuition to stay the course.”
So here we are in the final days of the ‘dog days’ of August. We have miraculously gotten some cooler, less humid air to settle into the lowcountry…giving us a hint of September with cooler mornings and nights to come!
And as for me…I know I made the right decision…my life is a balance of activities and energy offset with solitude and conversation with God…the right balance for me at this stage of my life.
A wonderful friend of mine at church yesterday (who has had lots and lots of company this summer) said she has discovered the right expression for the blessed silence and solitude that follows a crowd of guests…her new term: “A happy lonesome.” I had to laugh and laugh….I told her and her husband…that pretty much summed up my life a lot and it was and is a wonderful thing!
We can’t find true happiness without balance in our lives.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
The family shares in the bicycle celebration. Jake even showed off for me on his (well big sister’s) old trike…so proud of his achievement too.