When my kids started elementary school I had idyllic expectations that we’d ride bikes to school. The school is about half a mile away, making it just long enough to be a little tough for kindergartners and myself with a preschooler also in tow. But that was NOT going to stop me. I highly valued being outside and moving my body as well as setting that example for my kids, so riding bikes to school was a high priority, and something I was not going to give up on easily. I was stuck holding onto my expectations, it felt like giving up on the picture-perfect parenting routine I had envisioned.

Come hell or high water, as they say, we were biking to school.  When the kids were tired and crying we biked, when the kids refused we biked, rain we biked, 32 degrees Fahrenheit WE BIKED! For some reason, I believe that when I signed us up for biker walker, it was like I signed an oath with blood. That was the expectation. There was no flexibility in my mind. I was 100% stuck in rigidity. Sometimes I would see another Mom who usually biked drop her kids off in the car and I was confused by this.  I had no idea that there were other options and it was ok to mostly bike to school but of course, dropping off by car occasionally was great too. I did not realize I did not have to bike every day. I was in such tunnel vision and black and white thinking I couldn’t even see I had other options.

Where did this tunnel vision come from? Looking back, I think I was stuck in the trance of what I believed being the ideal mom looked like. I was struggling with guilt for working, but if I could take my kids to school, it would offset my guilt.  Also, biking maintained my value of being an outdoor, active family. These are great things unless they are held onto with a death grip.

When my kids entered first grade, I started to see the rigid pattern my expectations allowed me to get stuck in and how much pain and suffering it was causing and had caused. Looking back I began to consider that the transition into kindergarten had been hard enough without forcing biking on them every morning. My kids were little. 

In addition to the two kinders on bikes, I had a three-year-old in a bike seat or wagon with me every morning. Just to give you an idea of the insanity: I had two kindergartners on bikes (of course it’s not uncommon for kindergartners not to even know how to ride a bike) and I was on my bike with a seat for my three-year-old behind me. I had to bring a buggy behind my bike to carry their backpacks, their bikes, and sometimes them when they would inevitably just give up and stop moving forward.

Oh the tantrums, the tears, the anger, and frustration. This all unfolded every morning in the half mile to and from my kids’ school. Not to mention getting the crew dressed and on bikes to even leave the garage. It was insane. I was pushed over the edge every day and I could not see that there were changes I could have easily made that would have made my life dramatically easier.

If they were tired or having a hard day, I could not see through my tunnel vision to say,  “Maybe today would be a good day to do car drop-off.” Not to mention if I was tired or could use the extra 20 minutes that choice would’ve given me. 

As I began to see the rigidity I was stuck in, it was easier to see how much pain and frustration this rigidity was causing me and my kids. 

I wanted more flexibility in my life so I began to do car rider drop-off when I was tired, if the kids were tired, or if there was bad weather. 

It wasn’t easy though because some part of me feared if I stopped holding onto this expectation, I wouldn’t be the ideal mom I thought I should be. I’ll be giving in, throwing in the towel, giving up on my values.  Somehow some part of me feared if we didn’t bike one day, I was going to be a terrible mom and we might not ever bike again. This was a rigid mind at its worst.

Dropping off by car when I needed it was more convenient and I began to see none of the terrible things that I feared actually happened. I wasn’t a terrible mom. We still biked when it was convenient and it was OK.

Rigid patterns are often our way of trying to protect ourselves from some perceived danger. It’s usually not on a conscious level, but if we can at first notice the pattern or the rigid place we are stuck we can start to get curious about what our beliefs are and if there is something we are trying to protect against feeling or happening.

~Michelle

Michelle Puster M.Ed.

Mindfulness Informed Professional

Helping burned out parents find inner calm and compassion

440 Cobia Drive Suite 1301

Katy, TX 77494

832.361.1547