This morning my husband tells me he wants to go on a lengthy bike ride with the kids. His agenda and his energy are interfering with my morning plan so far which consists of sitting in my pajamas, greasy-haired, and smoking a cigarette in the house while watching downloaded back episodes of The Colbert Report. In true PT style the wind is gusting and I finally have to don a hoodie and head outside to finish my break, since the smoke is coming back at me through the torn screen on the window where I flick the ashes of my occasional (read: daily, these days) indoor fag.
I try to buy him off to a lesser errand – biking up to the Goodwill to scavenge up some winter clothes. I bitch and moan that my tires are low in air (it’s true!) and that we go to Fort Worden too much (damn, do we!). But ultimately I know how much he loves this kind of thing so I don tights and corduroy and about eight layers of upper bodywear (I’m a “coldie”), roll up my right pantleg, put on my mittens, and we’re out the door.
My kids love it when I come along on these rides. From the bike trailer their little eyes follow me everywhere. When Ralph leads down a narrow section of terrain I hear my daughter pipe up, “Is Mama back there?” I’m touched by how much I am simply desired by these wee creatures (the husband, too, come to think about it). I have never found my family’s love for me smothering (I guess I’ve always been the needy type, socially, and they fit this void very well), but I have found it miraculous. There is almost nothing I’ve done to be worth their love except work hard at being a mom and love them fiercely despite their occasional rottenness.
I end up doing well on the ride to the Fort but after our home-packed lunch and a coffee I suffer much more on the trek back. Specifically the leg stretching up Discovery from San Juan – I pussy out and walk the bike for a few blocks, thinking to myself at every Saab and Volvo station wagon that passes, “Shut up, at least I’m off my ass!” I marvel at my husband’s strength at keeping a good pace with 60+ pounds of kid and bike-trailer on the back of a dilapidated free 10-speed from the 70s. He’s the “roughin’ it” type.
My buff construction neighbor is just getting home as we are pulling up to our home. This is the guy who broke his back – or something like it from what I could see out my kitchen curtains last week – so pride prohibits me from walking it the last few feet home. My quads shriek in betrayal as I hump it up the last bit of hill to the oil-stained broken concrete of our driveway, which is seeming like paradise to me in this moment. I stagger in the house, leaving the husband to deal with the unpacking of the children, and vow to never again do any physical exercise of any sort.