Ever since we had the twins, each year has seemed like a "big" year. By circumstance and our own natures, the past seven years have brought incredible changes, lots of chaos, tons of fun, little sleep, a bucket full of stress, (buckets full of dirty diapers), and some truly wild adventures. In these years, we moved from an apartment in New York City to a dorm in a rural Maine prep school to the first floor of a rambling Victorian house in New Haven. A third son joined the party. I finished a Master's degree, became an at-home parent, moved back into high school teaching after some middle school years, did another stint as a full-time mama, and now work in a progressive elementary school--where I juggle being an administrator and being a parent. I became an orphan when my father died, my mother having died while I was pregnant with C and S. P and I left the RC church of our childhoods and joined the Episcopal Church, in part due to its more open stance towards women in the clergy and openness to GLBT people. P left his job running a nonprofit to care fulltime for our boys, then stepped into teaching, became a fulltime graduate student and seminarian, struggled on the path of becoming an Episcopal priest, and will finish school in May, no longer on the ordination path. Whew.
In two months, I turn 40-- another big year, right? I am embracing this for all it's worth. I've decided not to dye my hair, at least not to cover the grey, perhaps at some point, though, to add some secretly-desired pink streaks. I am letting anyone who asks know my age. I was going to get fit and strong and lose all this extra weight I've been dragging around, but that looks like it won't happen before 40. But I am going to celebrate this birthday.
And here and now, I am publicly promising myself two gifts for my birthday: a passport and a bike. I don't have any specific plans to travel abroad, by the passport promise is sort of symbolic. Here I am-- the woman who studied in Spain for a year during university, backpacked through Europe, returned to Sevilla for a summer, worked on a farm in Scotland another summer, joined the Peace Corps at 27, served in the Philippines, hanging around SE Asia for a couple of years, took two extended trips to Thailand, honeymooned in Laos, spent her 30th birthday at a wedding on Sifnos in Greece-- who now has expired passport. P and I have always talked about traveling and/or living abroad with kids, even dreamed up a great documentary idea that would require time overseas. When he had the opportunity to spend three weeks in Ghana last summer, I was excited for him, even though it meant solo parenting for that time (ugh!). How can it be that I have an expired passport? I think it's completely indicative about becoming a mama and how one loses herself in that 'role,' that space, that identity. So I hereby declare that I will print out the paperwork, get those dreaded passport photos taken, write the check, and get myself a brand spankin' new passport that at some point, somewhere, will get stamped before it expires in another 10 years.
And now onto the bike. Purchasing the bakfiets and commuting by bike has revolutionized the way P and I think about transportation. We have prided ourselves on being a one-car family, made some thoughtful and specific choices so that we could remain a one-car family, but now with the bakfiets, we are finding that we can leave the car parked more and more. As we look toward the summer, we realize that our transportation needs will change. P will take over the bakfiets/boy commuting, bringing the fellas to camp by bike whenever possible (they are going to a farm camp on the other side of the city for three weeks that we are not sure if we can realistically get to/from by bike daily). I will continue working at my school-- the big change from teacher to administrator, not getting the summer off. Thinking ahead, I realized that I need a bike of my very own, not a family cargo bike, but one just for me and my solo summer commute. Having made a huge (but worth-every-penny) investment in the baks, I am a little skittish to spend huge amounts on this bike. I have dreamed a bit of the Oma, now that I am totally into the Dutch bike thing but feel guilty about the expense and haven't found an East Coast dealer (we shipped the bakfiets across the country--ahhh, the gas used for that, although I do love our dealer in Portland, OR). I have also thought of an Electra Townie, but have read some negative reviews (along with many positive ones). Another mama biker suggested perhaps a Gary Fisher Simple City Bike. So I put this out there to the couple of bike folks who have been reading-- What do you think? I want a bike that I can step through, sit upright, not worry about wearing work clothes on, is steady and durable for city riding, and will be just right for this nearly 40-year-old?
OK, I have to admit I am sort of getting obsessed with xtracycles as well and wonder if I should go that route. Yup, we have a great cargo bike but I wonder if I get an xtra it will serve us better in the long run than just a 'single' bike for me . A kid can sit on the snap deck, especially if you get a cool stoker bar and we really can continue to go out by bike as a family, grocery shop, etc. I could use it solo without an issue as well so commuting this summer to work would work, too. Am I just getting ridiculous?