Bright as the Son
When you were three-and-a-half, you wanted a motorcycle. Your pre-school peers were all about purple dinosaurs, you were all about the X-games. Travis Pastrana was your hero, and you were hell-bent on becoming him.
We told you you couldn't have a motorcycle until you learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. The very next day you bent the training wheels up on your mini-BMX and learned to ride all on your own.
At the time, I was a little pissed that your impatience robbed me of the opportunity to teach you how to ride a bike, but it would be the first time of many that you unknowingly let me know you really didn't need me all that much. We held up our end of the bargain and presented you with the tiniest electric motorbike we could find complete with riding gear and a real helmet.
I was terrified.
You grew, and we didn't know how to grow with you and your Evil Knievel dreams- the electric bike turned into a pocket bike, but by the time you were solidly enthusiastic about acquiring a dirt-bike, we realized that one of us would have to also acquire the desire to ride a motorcycle as we couldn't see letting you just disappear into the sunset on your own. We told you that your hobby had grown into the realm of things we couldn't afford at the time- two (or more, for parts) dirt-bikes, a truck (we owned a sedan and a crossover), a tow-bed, riding gear... and on and on.
I had plenty of excuses and a lot of fear.
And I think I made a HUGE mistake. A huge one. And I'm so sorry.
I let my fears extinguish a passion you had for something, and I wish I'd chosen differently.
I wish I'd figured out how to ride a motorcycle and learned to love it with you.
I don't know if you hold it against me; I don't know if this is something that someday some therapist will work out for you, or if you even think about it at all.
But the truth is it was never the act of riding a two-wheeled vehicle I feared the most-
It was that you didn't really need me.
And the truth is... you don't.
I am so proud of your fierce independence, son. From the moment my own mother informed me that you'd taught yourself to ride the bike that day, I kind of knew what I was dealing with.
Years after I thought the motorcycle dream died, you informed us about the one time that you took one of our bikes out to jump in the arroyo and knocked yourself out after losing your balance. I think about that a lot, how you must've picked yourself up, carried yourself home, nursed your own injuries... and never said a word.
I don't know if you thought you'd be in trouble for wrecking a perfectly good Huffy ( I seem to remember wondering at some point how the four bikes Santa brought the previous Christmas seemed to deteriorate into one poor specimen of a bike as you wrecked and repaired and combined them, and learned how to do it all on your own....) and you could've been seriously hurt, but you never came to me. You never even let me know...
And now you're twenty-two, and you're moving out. I know you haven't stayed with us out of necessity, per se. I know you have a vision in your mind for your future and staying home has been a means to an end- you're certainly not, nor have you ever been, fully dependent on me. For anything.
I wonder sometimes if I would've stayed home, if I were a full-time mom, would I know you more? Or... better? Would you have been able to keep such things as mild concussions from me? Could I have taught you how to ride the bike? At some point I think my own restlessness, my own drive to succeed, my own independence... you came by it so honestly. I guess I can't blame you.
Here we are in business together and I can't stop thinking about killing the dirt-bike dream. I hope, with all of my heart, that somewhere in the folly of my motherly instinct to protect you, you know that the only thing I've ever really wanted for you is happiness. If I could go back, I'd find a way to buy the bike and the gear and to enter you into the teeny-tiny kid races and to get over my fear of feeling like I could lose you...
Because I guess the truth always was that I would lose you, at some point, some
how, in some way. It's hard, as a mom, to reckon with what a boy is. He arrives and burns bright for a while, and then he leaves when he wants to, just as sure as the sun sets. The sun doesn't need the approval of the Earth or anyone on it to shine, it just does.