The weather in Wellington was beautiful today; a promise of the Summer to come.
It was also Father’s Day. My little girls spent Father’s Day learning how to ride their new bikes with their mum.
A bicycle shop is closing down and flogging everything for half price so I, like the rest of the Kapiti Coast, swooped and got us a couple of bargains. Both of the girls have out grown their old bikes, which had been left outside too often anyway. Their new ones are lightweight, modern and miniature versions of grown-up bikes only without the confusing gears.
Conscious of the need for space and speed, I put on my Nikes this morning and got ready for a day of running around the school field holding Miss Six’s seat as she wobbled. It didn’t happen like that. On her second try I took away my hand but kept it close, jogging alongside her. The third time I let go and took my hand away, running alongside the bike as fast I could to keep up with her. She was glorious. The fourth time I just let her go and stayed in one spot to watch her pedal away, manoeuvring between goal posts and cycle racks. I was proud beyond words. And her little face was lit up with a sense of achievement and growing self-esteem. Oh God – it was … just … just … bloody lovely.
Her sister, Miss Three, had a new pink bike with a push handle for parents and stabiliser wheels. She was learning how to pedal and steer. While I’d been coaching big sister, Miss Three had given up and was sitting in the mud with her bottom lip sticking out. She perked up when I said it was her turn.
After just half an hour, both my daughters were telling me to go away because they could do it, and I wasn’t even allowed to watch Miss Six push herself off into a ride. She said my watching her ‘wasn’t helpful at all thank you, Mummy.’
They’d both started the morning so needy, and both were determined to go their own way by lunch.
It smarted, but only for a moment. That’s exactly what I want for my girls. I want them to go their own way. Although obviously not yet and not for a long time. I want it for them because I’ve felt the benefit of never being held back by my family, which is one of the better aspects of having a
dysfunctional interesting family like mine. I’m free to live on the other side of the world to them because I probably wouldn’t see them anyway. Not now that Dad’s gone.
Even my dad, to whom I was incredibly close, always pushed me to be my own person and live my own life. When I was emigrating, he was more than a little teary as he said: ‘You have a good life.’ He got back into his gorgeous old Jag as soon as he’d said it and sped away from the airport. I watched his receding tail-lights while my husband loaded an airport trolley with our bags. Dad let me go. That’s what you do for the people you love; that’s what you do for your kids.
Today, I relaxed with my girls as they took flight on their bikes and then we went for ice-cream. Then we went home for lunch, played with the worm farm, and finally went to the beach for a last run around. At some point on this Father’s Day, I remembered my dad’s words at the airport and realised that I am indeed having a ‘good life’. In fact, it doesn’t get much better than this.
I’m looking at a card Miss Six made for her father for Father’s Day and she’ll give it to him when she sees him in a couple of weeks. I have decided that I’m covered by this Father’s Day congratulations too, as should all solo parents who are both Mum and Dad everyday. In fact, I dedicate this blog to all the single mums who had to be a dad today.