When I was thirteen years old I spent all of my free time with a neighbor family. They had four children; the last two were twin toddler boys. I adored them. I wanted to quit school and be their nanny. Their family did not have much money to spend on the children but these two boys did have big wheel tricycles. You know, the real Big Wheels where the rider's legs are parallel to the ground. I don't think they actually make those anymore. They've probably been recalled or found to cause irreparable harm to growing leg muscles. Anyway, these little boys would ride their souped-up trikes on the sidewalk in front of the house. Their 5 year old brother taught them how to pull the handbrake at full speed so that they would swerve dramatically as they neared the end of the block. They would spin, turn around, and start pedalling in the opposite direction. Over and over again. For hours and hours.
Those boys would race down the sidewalk in any kind of weather and at any time of day. Many mornings from inside our apartment, I would hear their wheels on the pavement and know that they were awake and ready to play. This was my cue to rush out the door and spend the day at their house. While she was much younger than me, their sister was often charged with watching them. I know she was glad to see me coming. Since she wasn't allowed to ring my doorbell, I wonder if she was the one who put those boys and big wheels outside at the crack of dawn...
There's a point to this reminiscing. For ten or fifteen years after these neighbors moved away, I pined for a family of my own. I wanted nothing more than to have a child of my own. One I could love, cherish and nurture. I held on to this desire for a long time and then I gave up. At some point, I refused to let myself hope for a family anymore. I sealed off that part of me that wished to be a mom. Why keep doing that to myself if it was never going to happen?
Well, at the last possible moment it did happen. It happened because I took some bold steps and because some prayers are heard but not answered for decades. Here I am with two little boys of my own. Those toddlers from the 80's are most likely dads to children older than mine. Still, I think of their back and forth rumbling each time I see my boys with their own ride-on toys. What a long, broken road it was to get here. I guess it's a good thing that I never stopped pedaling.