Life is like riding a bicycle…

26 Sep

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. ― Albert Einstein

This is the time of year when so many children are heading out the door, to pre-school, kindergarten, high school or college. It is hard to let them go, yet you must. The job of being a parent is to give your children the wings to fly, and the courage to use those wings. The thing to remember is that each child is an individual and reaches this point when they are ready, not when you are. Timing is everything. It can be difficult as parents to know when they are ready.

I believe parenting is similar to teaching your child to ride a bike. First you discuss the process and spend some time teaching them to pedal. After a while you lower those wobbly training wheels until their confidence is built, eventually raising them so things can become a little uncomfortable. They may tumble a few times, but in the long run you know it’s necessary to help them find their center. Later you run along beside them holding onto the back of the bicycle while encouraging them to find their own balance. The day will come when you release them into the world. Before you know it they are flying along without you.

As your child navigates along the bumpy paths of life there will be bruises and a few set backs. We accept that. Sometimes they come back with more than a bump or bruise. We received the phone call that no parent wants to receive. Our son was being airlifted to a trauma center two hours away. We were told to hurry, the outlook was uncertain. After the long grueling trip we discovered that our son had fallen from a 180 foot cliff receiving a severe traumatic brain injury and was paralyzed on one side. The future of our son, our marriage and of our family was hanging in the balance.

How does one receive news like this and find the strength to go on? The ripple effect was put into play that day… our family, our marriage, our spirituality, everything about us changed and will be felt by the generations to come.

Being a care-giver to your injured child can be taxing, yet a deeply fulfilling endeavor. I found it to be a life journey that I would never have chosen. However, it changed not only me, but our entire family for the better. Sometimes in life we are faced with what seems to be an insurmountable challenge. It forces us to dig deep within ourselves to find the strength to go on, not only for us, but for our children. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

Our story has a happy ending. Our son’s paralysis was caused by a bleed into his brain when his carotid artery was dissected upon impact. The paralysis miraculously disappeared. Although his left side is weaker, today you would never notice, he keeps that to himself. His brain has slowly healed. He needed time to remember who we were, who he was, and to discover the new him.

After months of therapy and hard-work he knew he had one more obstacle to face. The day he decided to return all his Christmas gifts to purchase a rope to rappel the cliff he fell from just eight short months earlier, was the day I discovered my knees.

We do all we can to protect our children. We buy the protective gear, provide good guidance, but in the end we are not in control. I learned that day to give control to a higher power. When your child returns to the nest broken, you nurture and care for them. However, you must give them the wings and courage to fly once again. This is not easy. My son knew he needed to conquer the cliff that took so much away from him. He knew what I didn’t understand at the time…. that the young man at the top of the cliff holding the rappelling rope was not the same young man that landed triumphantly at the bottom.

We all face “cliffs” in our lives. I have found the quote “the only way out is through” to be true. I as well had to face my greatest fear, and discover that I was not in control. The woman writing this is no longer the same woman who raced to the hospital. My marriage, my health, my viewpoint on life has been forever altered. In a heart-beat I discovered what was important, and all that we can do is love them… and perhaps purchase a good helmet.

- Catie

Follow Catie Hartsfield on Twitter 

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One Response to “Life is like riding a bicycle…”

  1. John September 26, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

    Good post!

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