Thursday, December 13, 2012


It has been an exciting, challenging, difficult few months.

I founded a magazine, a new literary magazine for parents. It is called Stealing Time, and it is wonderful. If you want to read about parenting without being told how to parent; if you want to share in someone else's experience without being told what to buy; if you want to consider the "and" rather than always the "either-or" of parenting life; if you just like really good stories-- go and subscribe. You'll love it.

But the reason I'm posting tonight is this: I've been riding less. Feeling slow and wheezy when I do. Gaining weight. Losing muscle.

We still don't have a car, and it's not like I'm driving more. Instead: we've been leaving the house less. Having fewer adventures.

The magazine is a huge amount of work, and I have a limited amount of childcare to manage it. The rest gets done at night. Kes isn't sleeping through the night, and Jasper has been having a bad night at least once a week as well. My lifelong insomnia has been acting up. In short: I've been getting catastrophically too little sleep. And one of the places that has been affected by that is my physical well-being, and my ability to be a super cool bike mama.

At the same time, the kids are hard right now, too. Kes is adamant about having exactly the right clothes on before we go out (at 17 months!) and will scream and cry if she doesn't have the *right* hat, the *right* shoes, and so on. And Jasper is an angry nudist; we fight every morning about changing his diaper, about putting on a shirt, about putting on pants, and so on-- not to mention, before going out, having the same fight about coats and hats and gloves and raingear. I've taken to letting him leave the house without, and shoving them into my bag for if he wants them later. So far, he's held his ground, and hasn't yet caught his death. But all of those things make leaving the house harder, and paired with my fatigue and short temper, are sometimes enough to keep us indoors altogether.

I'm not writing to whine, I swear. I know that it is hard right now and I know that it will get better. I have been thinking about enlisting some of my kickass fellow bike moms in getting my ass back in gear, but am afraid that I'm not up for even that, yet. I am so, so tired.

I know that, for folks just getting into this bikey world, it can seem very all-or-nothing. Some people simply "are" bike people, with boundless energy and strength and tolerance for the cold-and-wet; and some people aren't. I'm writing to say: It's fuzzier than that. Being bike-based doesn't mean I always want to ride. Or that I'm always in top form. Or that the bike is always easy.

But I know that a lot of these challenges would still be challenges if we got around differently, except: I'd be getting even less exercise. I'd probably be having even less fun. It would be harder to connect with my kids when we *are* out and about.

I love my bike, even when I'm too tired to ride it. And I hope to be back in form soon. Kes's sleep is better and better. The magazine is creeping back from the edge of a financial cliff (and will do even better if you subscribe!). And the bike will be there, waiting, when I feel more myself again. There is a path from here to there. But right now, it's just hard.

(now, to go get some sleep...)


Anonymous said...

Even with no toddlers or magazines, I feel your pain.
My beloved sleep has temporarily abandoned me as I'm getting about 4 hours a night. It makes for short fuses and little energy. Maybe when I'm up we can bike a bit, if we're up to it. Otherwise, we'll stay in and make cookies and such.
Love, momma

Anonymous said...

Hello, Please don't be so hard on yourself. You are going through an extremely exciting and wonderful but stressful and exhausting time of parenting. I promise you it will all get easier as the kids get older. Just relax and enjoy the happy moments and don't worry about your biking or little weight gain.

Dorea said...

I haven't been by in a while (was just looking up your boxes again for someone asking about babies on a yuba), but couldn't read this without leaving a note of encouragement. I don't think there are many family bike people with "boundless energy and strength and tolerance for the cold and wet." (Well, maybe Emily Finch, but I'm guessing even she gets sick of it sometimes). We don't always want to ride either. But we ride enough to get where we need to go, and like you, even when we don't ride, we get where we need to go without a car (walking and transit are important too, and wow do our kids love transit). As as your kids grow you will ride more, and you will get more sleep, and bit by bit a little more ease will come into your life (and I don't envy you trying to get out of the door with two very little ones). I see folks doing big tours with kids, or putting in 15-20 miles a day by cargo bike, or biking with a million kids, and sometimes I think "Wow, we are slackers." But for us, the point isn't doing more, or even riding more, it's having a life that works. Hang in there (and cool magazine!)

Erin said...


Just wanted to let you know, even though you don't post often, I often come here for encouragement. My husband and I live in LA with our one year old daughter and we don't have a car. It has been a really positive choice for us, but it gets lonely. It is considered strange, even unwise, irresponsible etc., to live without a car in LA.

I am also really tired and not getting out much, though for me its a phd thesis I'm writing. My husband keeps telling me my daughter will be proud of me when I'm done.

Thank you for sharing.


She Rides a Bike said...

Life just seems to have a way or altering priorities and routines, doesn't it. Your situation is understandable but it sounds like you've been a busy lady - I certainly wouldn't know where to begin to start a magazine about anything.

I started graduate school this past fall and it's thrown everything upsidedown. Less time for homemade meals, less money, less time to blog, not that much opportunity for adventures at all. But everything in life has its time and I'm sure that things will shake out just fine with the magazine and your kiddos. Best wishes.

Chicargo said...

Hear Hear!

It's so up and down with staying on two wheels. We mom riders have to be good to each other and tell it like it is. Thanks so much for doing that here!
We had a really tough year last year after my Dad died. This is much better but though we are out I find instead, I barely write.
A friend recently found she could not ride any more in her later pregnancy and admitted she felt really whimpy...ok what??
We can't wait to check out your magazine. No one who debuts a magazine has been slacking, my friend! J.

-C said...

Thank you SO much for writing this! I am also incredibly tired (one sleepless baby and one incredibly active and intense toddler) and dealing with west coast winter doldrums, and have been feeling really guilty about not biking much at all lately. In a weird way, it's encouraging to see another badass mama struggling with the same issues. Spring is just around the corner and kids grow up fast and big new projects become manageable before you know it, but it's easy to get mired down in the discouraging stages. Thank you for taking the time to write about this. You made me feel a lot less alone.

Rachel Z. said...

I used to live in Portland, and now I live in Copenhagen with my husband, 2 sons and another on the way. We don't have a car, we use bikes all the time, and most of the time I love it. But it can be hard! Life is hard. Don't be too hard on yourself. As others said, the daily relentlessness WILL get easier as the kids get older. And hopefully you will get some sleep someday too. I am enjoying your blog, and hope you can not put too much pressure on yourself. You are doing the best you can every day, no matter how the day turns out. We all are.